The Arid Lands Environment Centre welcomes the broader scope of the terms of reference and the appointment of Justice Pepper as chair for the NT fracking inquiry announced by the NT Government over the weekend.
The new terms of reference allow for a broader investigation into the impacts of the gas fracking industry as called for by Territorians in the recent consultation. ALEC is committed to engaging broadly and deeply with this inquiry to ensure the voices of people most affected by the unconventional gas industry have an opportunity to be heard.
However, ALEC has serious concerns that the integrity of the inquiry is compromised by the pending environmental approvals and proposed construction timeline of the Northern Gas Pipeline.
In its recently submitted Environmental Impact Statement, the main stated justification for the Jemena Northern Gas Pipeline is “stimulating gas exploration and production in the Northern Territory by opening a new market for Northern Territory gas”.
“ALEC welcomes the broadened terms of reference for the fracking inquiry to include consideration of other activities that are associated with hydraulic fracturing, and this demonstrates the government is listening to the concerns of Territorians,” said Jimmy Cocking, Director of the Arid Lands Environment Centre.
“However we have serious concerns that the Northern Gas Pipeline is undermining the inquiry. The Northern Gas Pipeline will be dependent on fracked gas to be economically viable, and it is projected to provide impetus to open up the Territory to fracking,” said Mr Cocking.
The Northern Gas Pipeline has been labeled the “whitest of white elephants” by some industry commentators (http://www.smh.com.au/business/energy/northern-territory-gas-pipeline-a-white-elephant-report-20160518-goya2b.html), and was proposed by the climate denying Giles government who spent millions of taxpayers dollars on promoting the gas fracking industry. ALEC is staunchly opposed to the proposed pipeline due to it’s enabling effects on fracking the Territory.
“This is a case of putting the cart before the horse. Pipeline has already started arriving despite the company not having environmental approvals. If the NT Government approves the pipeline and construction begins before the findings of the fracking inquiry are released, Territorians can have no faith in this process or the moratorium”.
“If we're to keep global temperature rise under 2 degrees, 80% of known fossil fuel reserves must remain in the ground. This essentially means an approach of no new fossil fuel projects. “
“If we're serious about jobs and climate change, the NT Government needs to grow the renewables sector in Tennant Creek and the Barkly, and not create dependency on stranded fossil fuel assets and pipe-dreams,” concluded Jimmy Cocking.