SOFIA, Bulgaria, Feb. 6 (UPI) -- Bulgaria has the right, as a sovereign state, to make its own decisions on the extraction of shale natural gas deposits, the U.S. envoy to the country said.
Bulgaria has as much as 35 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in its Novi Pazar shale deposit, though the government last month imposed an indefinite ban on an extraction method called fracking and pulled a shale exploration license from U.S. supermajor Chevron.
U.S. Ambassador to Bulgaria James Warlick said Washington respects Sofia's decision, noting that there are inherent risks with energy production.
"It is up to the Bulgarian government to decide and we will respect any decision," he was quoted by the Sofia News Agency as saying.
Last week, right-wing lawmakers, including former Prime Minister Ivan Kostov, called for a reversal of the ban, noting legislation should be drafted to ensure tighter control of the practice.
Critics of shale gas exploration note chemicals used in fracking fluid could reach groundwater. A series of small earthquakes in the United Kingdom and United States have been attributed to shale natural gas development.
Warlick's comments came during a regional visit by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.