Bulgaria's Rulers Promise Shale Gas Ban, Protesters Claim
Bulgaria's ruling center-right GERB party has taken a political commitment to ban the exploration and production of shale gas in the country, according to environmentalists.
Several thousand eco protesters gathered in Bulgaria's capital Sofia on Saturday in front of the House of Parliament to protest against what they see as a highly hazardous technique, hydraulic fracking, that is employed for shale gas exploration and extraction.
They were joined by thousands more in cities across the country, with the more prominent being in Varna, Dobrich and Plovdiv.
In the summer of 2011, the Bulgarian government gave a permit to US fuel giant Chevron to explore for shale gas in a fertile area in the north-east in Dobrich Region.
Bulgarian PM Boyko Borisov, Minister of Economy and Energy Traicho Traikov, and Minister of Environment Nona Karadzhova have thus far spoken supportively of the exploration plans, but have vowed to preserve the environment in the procedure.
At the Sofia protest Saturday however, an environmentalist leader, Angel Slavchev from a civic group called "Civic Initiative for the Ban on Shale Gas" told the BGNES agency that GERB representatives in Parliament had agreed to table and vote for legislation prohibiting shale gas production from Bulgaria.
According to Slavchev, civic movement representatives met Friday night with Parliament Speaker Tsetska Tsacheva and other GERB MPs, who told them the shale gas bill will be included in the Wednesday agenda of the Bulgarian National Assembly.
They also said they had a "political decision to support the moratorium on shale gas," claimed the environmentalist.
People at the Saturday protest rallies in 12 Bulgarian cities and towns raised slogans such as "Traicho and Nona, You'll Go to Jail", "Don't Gas Us!", and "We Want Bread, Not Gas!"
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