The Northern Territory Frack-Free Alliance today welcomes the release of the Hawke Inquiry into Hydraulic Fracturing Report and calls on the government to initiate an immediate moratorium on this proven high risk, low return industry.
The Hawke report identifies many of the public health and environmental risks posed by fracking that is confirmed by more than 400 peer reviewed studies now available on fracking impacts.
However the Inquiry recommendations for an improved regulatory regime do not go far enough in addressing and mitigating identified risks. The impacts of fracking are well documented and overseas experience now shows that these are inherent to the engineering process and cannot be effectively regulated out of existence.
The report and NT government response admit that the NT’s weak environmental laws and current regulatory regime is under-resourced and unprepared to manage the risks of fracking. Enacting a moratorium on this industry should be the first act of a responsible government acting on the precautionary principle.
The current regulatory regime relies on an under-resourced inspection and compliance agency and industry self-regulation which has so far failed to protect NT communities and the environment from the impacts of the extractive industries.
Tasmania has just today enacted a 5 year fracking moratorium, and even in states like NSW and QLD where it is claimed the industry operates to best practice standards for environmental regulation accidents and contamination incidents are frequent and unaddressed.
The NT Frack-Free Alliance is calling for:-
-The collection of baseline water quality, environmental and public health data and fracking chemical disclosure so targeted communities can determine risk and prove contamination impacts from fracking operations.
-Landholders and communities must be fully informed of the risks and be given the right to veto fracking. Water catchment areas, National parks and reserves, places of cultural importance and community living areas must be designated exclusion zones.
-The NT Petroleum and Water Acts to be strengthened to weight environmental protections over economic considerations by gas companies.
-The removal of all public subsidies for exploration or extraction of shale gas reserves and an end to any further approval of shale gas licenses.
-Consider all opportunities for development of the NT’s vast reserves of renewable energy sources, in particular solar and wind and conduct a cost-benefit comparison of the renewable industry to shale gas.
With the release of this report the NT Government now has the opportunity to demonstrate it is listening to Territorian’s concerns and let science determine the facts – both rule out the introduction of a dangerous and dirty fracking industry in the NT. We call on government to implement an immediate moratorium. To do less is to create collateral damage of Territory residents to an industry which is unregulated, unnecessary and unsafe.