Last week, Vermont became the first state in the US to pass legislation to ban hydrofracking in its borders.  This week, Germany has joined 3 other European nations to slow down or stop the explorations for shale gas within their borders.  As reported in the Mint Press News:

France, the Czech Republic and Bulgaria have already placed moratoriums on fracking, highlighting a growing trend among European nations implementing policies that favor environmental concerns over business.

But not all nations are on board — has remained steadfast in its mission to continue hydraulic fracturing as a means for the country to produce its own oil.

It is also noted that the process of exploration is going forward in UK, despite controversy and some official acknowledgement of potential environmental problems:

In the United Kingdom, the practice has been approved by the Environmental Agency. Natural Gas Europe reports the head of the Environmental Agency, Lord Chris Smith, gave a nod of approval to the controversial practice, admitting that environmental concerns did exist, but that the would ramp up monitoring at and near drill sites.

Der Speigel reported this week that the German Environment Minister and Economy Minister have agreed, together, to halt shale gas exploration activity in Germany:

Germany has put the brakes on plans to use hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as fracking, to extract natural gas in places where it is difficult to access, such as shale or coal beds. Environment Minister Norbert Röttgen and Economy Minister Philipp Rösler have agreed to oppose the controversial process for the time being, SPIEGEL has learned.

Sources in the German government said that the ministers were “very skeptical” about fracking, which injects chemicals as well as sand and water into the ground to release natural gas. “There are many open questions which we will first have to carefully examine,” Rösler told close associates. With their stance, the two ministers are opposing plans by energy companies to use the fracking process to tap into deposits of natural gas in shale, especially in northern and eastern Germany.

While there is no commitment to a permanent ban on the technology in Germany, it is unclear what time frame or process could convince the German government to allow exploration for shale gas to resume.