French senators voted on Thursday to outlaw hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, making France the first country to pass a law banning the technique for extracting natural gas.
“We are at the end of a legislative marathon that stirred emotion from lawmakers and the public,” French environment minister Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet said before the vote. Hydraulic fracturing will be illegal and parliament would have to vote a new law to allow research using the technique, she said.
Energy companies that use fracking in France to produce oil and gas will have their permits revoked and its use could lead to fines and prison, according to the law.
Lawmakers of the ruling UMP party voted in favour of the bill, while the opposition Socialists rejected the proposal for not going far enough.
Before the final vote, the ban had moved between the French upper and lower houses of parliament since March.
Fracking, widely used in North America, uses a mixture of water, sand and chemicals injected under high pressure to break dense rock to release oil and gas trapped within.
Green groups and politicians led protests across France, saying the method could cause environmental damage. Government ministers and industry representatives say it is the only method currently available to get hydrocarbons from the rock.