Frack­ing ban ‘empty’: Evers

Augusta Margaret River Times - - News - Taelor Pelusey

Greens MLC Diane Evers says a hard-fought cam­paign to have un­con­ven­tional gas ex­plo­ration ruled out in the South West has re­sulted in an “un­for­tu­nate” and “empty” frack­ing ban that does lit­tle to pro­tect the re­gion.

The hy­draulic frac­tur­ing de­bate is again rag­ing hot af­ter the State Gov­ern­ment this week lifted a mora­to­rium in WA’s North fol­low­ing the re­lease of the in­de­pen­dent panel in­quiry’s fi­nal re­port.

A WA Gov­ern­ment spokes­woman as­sured the ban — a 2017 pre­elec­tion prom­ise — would not be re­pealed, but the re­cent de­ci­sion has anti-gas cam­paign­ers un­easy, with three ac­tive per­mits from Man­durah to Mar­garet River and tril­lions of cu­bic litres of un­tapped nat­u­ral gas.

Ms Evers said the ban of­fered a false sense of se­cu­rity and it was a shame the cam­paign had hinged on the term “frack­ing”.

She said frack­ing was “very spe­cific” and while the ac­tiv­ity was not per­mit­ted, vari­a­tions and other types of un­con­ven­tional ex­trac­tion could po­ten­tially go ahead.

“That’s what peo­ple re­ally wanted banned — all un­con­ven­tional ex­trac­tion,” she said.

“A lot of peo­ple as­sumed the ban would mean more than what it does.” Frack­ing has been tri­alled with­out suc­cess sev­eral times and been deemed un­suit­able south of Perth.

Ear­lier this year, gas ex­plorer CalEn­ergy pulled the pin on ac­tiv­i­ties at Whicher Range between Bus­sel­ton and Mar­garet River, an­nounc­ing it was not worth forg­ing ahead and the wells would be ce­mented shut.

Per­mits also ex­ist for Bun­bury En­ergy and Pi­lot En­ergy, for con­ven­tional and un­con­ven­tional ex­trac­tion re­spec­tively.

While con­ven­tional ex­trac­tion would still re­sult in the burn­ing of fos­sil fu­els, it is gen­er­ally pre­ferred by en­vi­ron­men­tal­ists be­cause the rock is not frac­tured and the gas flows out freely. How­ever, there is di­vi­sion over whether all un­con­ven­tional ex­trac­tion meth­ods are cause for con­cern.

Pic­ture: Therese Col­man

Daisy Mal­colm, Rob Alder, Malia Rouil­lon and Lisa Chatwin of the newly formed Wa­ter De­fend­ers Aus­tralian Al­liance.

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