Labor fracking moratorium a good start but also raises concerns

The Arid Lands Environment Centre (ALEC) cautiously welcomes the NT Labor Government’s moratorium on fracking announced this morning, but questions why exploration for unconventional gas is allowed to continue.

In pre-election commitments Territory Labor stated it would ‘implement a moratorium covering all unconventional gas prospecting exploration and extraction activities’. (http://territorylabor.com.au/Labors-Plan/Fracking). This morning’s announcement states that the moratorium will now only apply to the process of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) itself.

“Whilst ALEC welcomes the swift moratorium on the process of hydraulic fracturing in NT Labor’s first weeks of governance, allowing unconventional gas prospecting and exploration to continue undermines the integrity of the inquiry,” said Nicole Pietsch, spokesperson for the Arid Lands Environment Centre.

“The moratorium is only on the process of hydraulic fracturing itself, and still allows companies to undertake land-clearing, seismic testing and drilling core holes in exploring for unconventional gas. Landholders still have no right to say no to unconventional gas exploration on their land. This announcement sends a mixed message to the gas industry and the community.”

“Chief Minister Michael Gunner’s statements at the oil and gas summit in Darwin this morning seemed to indicate that fracking will be able to go ahead once social license from Northern Territorians is gained,” said Nicole Pietsch.

“But there is never going to be social license from the community. Territorians don’t want to see our precious landscapes turned into industrial gasfields. We don’t want to risk contamination of our groundwater, and impacts on our environment and health. No industry is free of risk, and one major problem with the unconventional gas industry elsewhere is that baseline studies have never been undertaken to measure impacts against. So it’s the communities who have been impacted word against the gas companies.”

“ALEC urges Territorians to look to the mounting evidence that is now coming out of the United States where shale gas industries are established. Just google ‘shale gas fracking impacts’ or have a look at this compendium of articles http://concernedhealthny.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/PSR-CHPNY-Compendium-3.0.pdf. “

“ALEC also urges Territorians to examine and respond to the terms of the reference for the inquiry https://nt.gov.au/news-and-media/public-consultations/frackinginquiry with public comment open till October 13th.”

 “It is now understood that 80% of proven fossil fuel reserves will need to stay in the ground to prevent the earth from warming 2C above pre-industrial levels – a temperature limit beyond which scientists warn of spiralling and irreversible climate change. Despite the industry telling us that gas is clean energy, once fugitive emissions are counted gas is worse than coal. The NT Government needs to stop all new fossil fuel exploration and invest immediately into the transition to renewable energy,” Nicole Pietsch said.

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