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Dutch Cabinet says shale gas can be safely exploited, but opposition remains

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AMSTERDAM - The Dutch government is trying to allay environmental and safety concerns about extracting the country's shale gas reserves, saying an independent study has found that the resources can be exploited safely.

Economic Affairs minister Henk Kamp said Monday the study by engineering group Witteveen & Bos found current safety and environmental laws were sufficient to cover any risks and test drilling is necessary to determine the potential importance of the resource for the Dutch economy.

This fall, Parliament will debate whether test drilling should be given the go-ahead, with the swing vote likely to be the centre-left Labor Party, which has shifted its position on shale gas several times.

A 2011 attempt at test drilling in Netherlands in the eastern city of Boxtel foundered over legal challenges and local opposition.

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