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Walk down a busy street on a rainy morning in Cologne, where I've been studying German politics, culture and the practice of journalism on a fellowship with the RIAS Berlin Commission and it quickly becomes clear that a handmade soap store wants to keep the German landscape just as clean as it does potential customers. Hydraulic fracturing as a contentious political issue has made the jump across the Atlantic. 

Our shaky German language skills proved inadequate in eliciting little more than a pamphlet from the staff about why they have devoted so much of their storefront to the fight against fracking. But it's a fight that appears to be successful, at least so far. Last month, German government ministers agreed to oppose the process.

And the pamphlet? It's quite possibly the best smelling leaflet around about fracking, too.