WA con­firms frack­ing ban

The Australian Energy Review - - NEWS - CAMERON DRUM­MOND

THE WA La­bor Govern­ment has de­clared a state-wide mora­to­rium on frack­ing and banned the prac­tice in the South West, Peel and Perth met­ro­pol­i­tan re­gions.

The McGowan Govern­ment said it was de­liv­er­ing on its elec­tion prom­ise to con­duct a pub­lic in­quiry into the use of frack­ing to ex­tract nat­u­ral gas.

“The State Govern­ment’s de­ci­sion will pro­hibit com­pa­nies from us­ing frack­ing dur­ing ex­plo­ration or pro­duc­tion,” Depart­ment of Mines, In­dus­try Reg­u­la­tion and Safety (DMIRS) act­ing ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor Petroleum De­nis Wills said.

A com­mit­tee was be­ing es­tab­lished to con­duct an in­de­pen­dent sci­en­tific in­quiry into frack­ing and will be chaired by En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Au­thor­ity (EPA) chair Dr Tom Hat­ton.

“The sci­en­tific in­quiry will use cred­i­ble sci­en­tific and his­tor­i­cal ev­i­dence to as­sess each level of risk as­so­ci­ated with frack­ing and out­line reg­u­la­tory mech­a­nisms to iden­tify and min­imise po­ten­tial risks to the en­vi­ron­ment, health, agri­cul­ture, her­itage and the com­mu­nity,” Mr Wills said.

The mora­to­rium is ex­pected to last up to 12 months, and will stop com­pa­nies such as Buru En­ergy and Mit­subishi from ex­plor­ing for on­shore gas in the State.

“The McGowan Govern­ment recog­nises the need to pro­tect the State's en­vi­ron­ment from risks as­so­ci­ated with ex­tract­ing petroleum prod­ucts us­ing frack­ing,” WA En­vi­ron­ment min­is­ter Stephen Daw­son said.

How­ever, APPEA WA chief oper­at­ing of­fi­cer St­ed­man El­lis said an in­quiry by the WA Leg­isla­tive Coun­cil’s En­vi­ron­ment and Pub­lic Af­fairs Com­mit­tee had al­ready found that frack­ing posed neg­li­gi­ble risk.

“The En­vi­ron­ment and Pub­lic Af­fairs Com­mit­tee con­sid­ered all of the ev­i­dence and lis­tened to all sides of the de­bate be­fore unan­i­mously con­clud­ing af­ter a two-year in­quiry that any con­cerns about frack­ing can be ad­dressed through reg­u­la­tion and on­go­ing mon­i­tor­ing,” Mr El­lis said.

“The com­mit­tee’s find­ings echoed those of more than a dozen other in­quiries in Aus­tralia and count­less in­de­pen­dent re­views and stud­ies which all con­firmed that frack­ing is safe.

“The Health Depart­ment says frack­ing can be done with­out com­pro­mis­ing drink­ing wa­ter and Aus­tralia’s Chief Sci­en­tist says the ev­i­dence shows it’s ‘com­pletely safe’.

“This is not a new tech­nol­ogy. Ac­cord­ing to the Depart­ment of Mines and Petroleum, more than 600 wells have been fracked in WA in the past 55 years with no ev­i­dence of en­vi­ron­men­tal harm.

“WA does not need another frack­ing in­quiry. What it des­per­ately needs is new jobs, in­vest­ment and roy­al­ties to help re­pair the state bud­get.”

Im­age: WA Govern­ment.

Frack­ing has been banned in large chunks of WA’s south west re­gion.

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