SAS Environmental Services Blog

The Western Australia Fracking Debate

Posted by Sophie Cochrane on 19-Feb-2019 11:00:00
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Western Australia has one of the world’s largest reserves of gas trapped in rock deep below underground. However, a couple of years ago the Western Australia government imposed a state-wide moratorium on fracking for unconventional gas. Until recently, when this statewide moratorium on fracking was lifted by the Premier of Western Australia, Mark McGowan, amid intense opposition from large parts of the community.

The implementation of the moratorium in the first place raised fears that the controversial practice could eventually be banned altogether, following on from other Australian states that have restricted the process. In the state of Victoria fracking, as well as shale and coal-seam gas exploration, has been banned. While states such as Northern Territory, New South Wales and Tasmania have moratoriums. The moratorium for Western Australia stopped companies from exploring for onshore gas, which contains some of the nation’s biggest untapped deposits.

Fracking involves drilling into the earth before a high-pressure mix of water, sand and chemicals is injected to free gas from rocks deep underground. Fracking extracts petroleum products for the development of unconventional oil and gas supplies however, environmental groups say the practice is risky and can contaminate underground water supplies. In Western Australia, the controversial drilling practice will now be allowed on existing titles and with the consent of traditional owners and farmers.

Mark McGowan states that, “this is a balanced responsible, science-based policy that supports economic opportunities, new jobs, environmental protection and landowner right."

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The announcement follows the government being handed the findings of an independent scientific panel into fracking, led by environmental protection authority chair Tom Hatton, after a year of consultation. The oil and gas industry have described this inquiry, the second into fracking in 3 years, as a waste of taxpayers’ money as a 2015 inquiry unanimously found that fracking posed negligible risks, with more than 600 wells having been fracked in Western Australia in the past 55 years with no evidence of environmental harm.

However, this politically explosive issue between the oil and gas industry, MPs, farmers and environmentalists continues on. What are your thoughts on this particular fracking debate? Comment below and let us know!

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