European politicians push for fracking amid Crimea crisis

Russia’s efforts to annex the Crimean peninsula have spurred some European politicians to renew their push for hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, to produce natural gas in on their continent, The Washington Post reported.

Efforts to allow on-shore fracking for natural gas have existed for years, but have taken on a new urgency amid Russia’s aggression, the Post said. Conservative leaders, mostly in the United Kingdom, Germany and Poland, have led the push, where the practice is largely banned.

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Europe gets about a third of its natural gas from Russia. Leaders say increased fracking would help their countries achieve energy independence, the Post reported.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates that Europe has 470 trillion cubic feet of recoverable natural gas, compared with 567 trillion cubic feet below the United States.

But environmentalists in Europe are concerned that natural gas exploration would harm the continent. Europe’s geology means that process would likely be harder than it is in the U.S., and environmentalists think leaders should try other strategies for energy independence, including renewable sources and reducing consumption.

President Obama in March called for Europe to “diversify” its energy sources in response to Russia's aggression.