The Northern Territory’s Environment Minister is recommending a government inquiry into the use of fracking in the oil and gas industry.
There’s been growing concern about the use of the technique, otherwise known as hydraulic fracturing.
It involves pumping water, sand and chemicals at high pressure to fracture rock layers deep within the earth to extract natural gas.
Minister Peter Chandler has called on the Northern Territory Government to look into the environmental impact of fracking and how risks are assessed and managed by companies.
“Hydraulic fracturing or fracking could be the key to unlocking huge economic benefits for the NT oil and gas industry,” he said.
“However, people are unsure about what the potential impacts from these practices could have on the environment and that does create some angst.
“These community concerns have led me to recommend that this government commission an inquiry into the potential environmental impacts of hydraulic fracturing in the Northern Territory.”
Mr Chandler says he’s written to the Northern Territory’s independent Environmental Protection Agency recommending the inquiry.
It comes after pastoralists formed a lobby group last week, to fight against the use of fracking on their land.
APPEA responds to calls for NT fracking inquiry ( ABC News )
Stedman Ellis from the Australian Petroleum Production & Exploration Association (APPEA) says it’s important that Territorians are well informed about the use of fracking, but an inquiry is unlikely to uncover anything new.
“I think I’d be confident that any inquiry conducted in the Northern Territory will reinforce the findings of other inquiries we’ve seen… that hydraulic fracturing and the overall development of the shale gas industry is safe and sustainable, and a necessary practice to realise the economic opportunities of a natural gas industry,” he said.
“An unfortunate part of people’s effort to understand the potential risks and rewards associated with shale gas, is the scare campaign from environmental groups around Australia.”
NT environmental groups are calling for a moratorium on fracking in the Northern Territory.
NT Environment Centre would welcome fracking inquiry ( ABC News )
Stuart Blanch from the NT Environment Centre says his organisation would welcome an inquiry.
“We’ve been calling for an independent inquiry for the last four years,” he said.
“The claims by the oil and gas industry that shale gas and fracking is safe really needs investigating.
“It’s not just concerns about environmental impacts that need investigating; pastoralists, farmers, fishermen, land councils and people in the Territory government do not accept the claims from APPEA.
“What we need is stronger laws, better science, better understanding of the risks and real consultation.”