In September 2018, residents of Rautendorf in the municipality of Grasberg found out that the international oil and gas company DEA AG has plans to do seismic measurements in order to clarify, if gas extraction would be possible. Affected districts will be Diepholz, Osterholz-Scharmbeck, Rotenburg and Verden that are located in Lower Saxony like the graphic down below shows.

The DEA is planning to send out so called Vibro-Trucks that search for gas on 14 km long tracks. Those trucks will be driving on public roads where they are going to measure in certain intervals if there are any gas pockets. For doing this kind of work those trucks have got vibrating plates attached to their bottom with which they send seismic waves into the ground. In order to measure correctly the DEA needs to set up devices along the road that occasionally would have to stand on private property. Therefore the DEA needs permission of the landlords and that is where the initiatives come into play.

As the DEA reached out to the district of Osterholz-Scharmbeck too, NoMoorGas has been founded in November 2018 in order to stop them. In regard to existing initiatives NoMoorGas is the first, that works beyond districts together with people of affected municipals. Moor is the german word for bog or swamp. Lower Saxony and especially the affected districts are known for their widespread swamps, which is why the initiative decided to name them after NoMoorGas, because the german word “Moor” can be used as a reference to the english word “more”. Consecutively rock layers favours the increased presence of gas in Lower Saxony, which is the main reason for the DEA to search for gas in these specific areas.

According to spokeswoman Birgit Münkner a Red X has been used to show protest against gas extraction before. The only reference I could find was a protest in the city Langwedel of the district Verden in Lower Saxony 2014 „Flecken Langwedel gegen Gasbohren“ which was using a Red X for the same cause. Their slogan was “I stand across” referring to the protests against the CASTOR transports in Wendland (Eastern Lower Saxony) which used a yellow cross as a symbol of the Anti-nuclear movement.

To adress their disapproval with the DEA’s plans citizens started putting up a Red X in front of their property, so people coming along can see that they are supporters of the initiative. In order to being able to hand out enough Red X’s to supporters, some members of the citizens’ initiative have set up production facilities. The Initiative believes, that trough the extraction of gas in that area will be a decline of value of real estate, because they fear, that seismic waves are causing cracks on houses especially the older ones. Furthermore they are afraid of an increased occurrence of earthquakes, but the biggest accusation of the initiative is, that they are connecting cancer cases in the city of Bothel in the district Rotenburg, where the gas and oil corporation Exxon Mobile has been producing gas for over a decade.

To spread the protest even further, the initiative started inviting citizens to informative events and collecting signatures in public places, for a petition against the plans of the DEA, which is still running. They also got some authorities and the church involved who support their cause. Even some mayors are considering legal actions in favor of the protesters. Just recently the initiative requested support for a protest at the abbey of Loccum where the regional bishop invited high authorities like the prime minister Stefan Weil and minister of economics Dr. Bernd Althusmann of Lower Saxony to give them an open letter.

In december the DEA declared that they cease their plans for now until they can prove that there aren’t any negative effects on the environment and/or the people living in the area. For now the outcome is a success for he initiative, but the DEA still has not given up their plans on searching for gas. Recent events in Bad Fallingbostel show, that the fight is not over yet. Because the local gas producer Vermillion Energy can request the State Office for Mining, Energy and Geology to expropriate where they want to search for or extract gas.

References:

All photos and rights belong to NoMoorGass and were taken from their website: https://www.nomoorgas.de/

Newspaper article of the protest in Langwedel 2014. https://www.weser-kurier.de/region_artikel,-Rote-Kreuze-gegen-Erdgasfoerderung-_arid,839324.html

Explanation of the yellow cross: http://www.castor.de/diskus/sonst/dasx.html