Spain’s national government has opened the door to fracking even while regional and local authorities maintain opposition to oil and gas development. With a hurting economy and an unemployment rate of 26%, the government hopes to lessen what consumers pay for heating fuel—which currently stands at about triple the U.S. price. Over the past few months, the People’s Party-led government has changed a law in an effort to foster shale exploration and has sought to wrest control over land use from anti-fracking regional authorities. Now, energy companies from Texas, Canada, and Ireland, spurred by data that suggests Spain may have a significant amount of shale gas, are pursuing exploration permits. As fracking consumes large amounts of water, however, Spain, as Europe's most water-stressed nation, may resist pro-fracking interests. Furthermore, the country’s Agriculture, Food, and Environment Ministry has yet to approve any fracking project after studying its potential environmental effects, and green opposition has so far kept energy companies from exploring a potential oil and gas source off the Canary Islands. Nevertheless, Heyco Energy Group president George Yates has said that drilling in the Basque region is only about a year away. For the full story, see