Romania’s Senate has overwhelming rejected a motion to ban shale gas exploration and exploitation by hydraulic fracturing, marking an about-face for Prime Minister Victor Ponta’s Social Democrat Party (PSD) that introduced the draft law in March.
The 21 June vote of 53 to 11 with nine abstentions included came seven weeks after the Ponta government took office. Ponta’s party had proposed the legislation when it was in opposition.
Nationwide protests took place in the country in April and May, including southeastern Romania, where the shale gas exploration by Chevron was due to begin. Similar protests on the other side of the border, in Bulgaria, have also upset plans by US energy company Chevron to start drilling.
The left-leaning coalition USL, which is dominated by the PSD, won the local elections held on 10 June, largely riding on the environmentalist wave. The former cabinet of Mihai R?zvan Ungureanu supported shale gas development.