Dear Dr Hawke,
I wish to submit the following concerns about hydraulic fracturing in the Northern Territory.
The history of devastating pollution to waterways and
farmland associated with fracking across the world demonstrates that it
threatens the health of our rivers and aquifers.
I believe that the risk of fracking is too high and
the potential for serious long-term impacts too great to be compensate
for the short-term financial benefit to the Northern Territory. I
cannot fathom how a government could be so short-sighted to allow such
damaging mining to take place in a country where food produce is so
important. The proven risk of gases seeping out into our aquifers,
waterways and bores should be enough to stop any consideration of such
The high level of water use by mining companies which
is not controlled by the Water Act, meaning mining companies do not
need to seek a licence to extract water for fracking.
Industrialisation and fragmentation of our pristine
bushlands, which are our biggest asset in terms of both biodiversity
and providing for the livelihoods of many Territorians.
Health impacts of fracking caused by the contamination
of our air and water has been proven in the United States, and it is
only a matter of time before such cases are recorded in our own
There is potential for devastating impact on our fishing and tourism industries, both of which are already suffering.
I ask the Inquiry to respond to the following questions:
- The EPA has stated that there are too many wells to
assess individually and that the NT Government does not have the
resources to ensure compliance. Will companies be required to undertake
environmental impact assessment of each well?
- How can the community have confidence in the
government to be able to make informed decisions based on the science
and not just the hard sell from mining companies?
- Have any independent studies been undertaken to properly assess the impacts of fracking in a tropical monsoonal environment?
- How will the potential health, social and cultural impacts of fracking be assessed?
- Who pays for environment clean up if fracking
allows gas to leak into the groundwater and more methane to be released
into to our atmosphere, contributing to greenhouse gas emissions?
- Do mining companies have the right to come on to
any pastoral lease, private freehold or native title land and frack for
gas without free, prior and informed consent by the landholder?
- Where landholders do have a right to veto, or to compensation, how is their decision process informed?
- What will happen to the millions of litres of contaminated waste water?
- Who benefits financially from fracking?
- How will mining companies be subsidized or incentivized to frack using taxpayer dollars?
- How can people living in remote communities contribute to this Inquiry?
- How will commercial interests be represented in this Inquiry?
- Will any forums be held to discuss issues raised by the Inquiry?
- Will the Inquiry acknowledge that both mining
companies and governments have a vested interest in allowing fracking to
go ahead despite the risks it presents, and the bias that this
- How will the results of this Inquiry be reported and enacted?
- Who will ensure mining companies comply with any guidelines formed as a result of this Inquiry?
I call on you to make recommendations for:
- Ensuring that any fracking development takes place
according to the Precautionary Principle for Ecologically Sustainable
Development and that this is incorporated into the relevant
- Funding an independent scientific study which
properly assesses all impacts (environmental, health, social and
cultural) caused by fracking both interstate and overseas to assess the
risk to the Territory.
- Independent assessment of the climate impact of fracking, including fugitive emissions.
- A moratorium on all fracking until all of these risks have been properly assessed by independent scientists.
- Assessing and establishing permanent ‘no go’ zones
for sensitive areas as reserved blocks under the Petroleum Act (eg.
Drinking water catchments, cultural or environmentally significant
areas such as sacred sites or protected areas, groundwater recharging
zones, food croplands)
- Ensuring the onus of proof to demonstrate that
fracking is safe for the Territory’s environment and communities is
borne by the mining companies rather than landowners, including the
collection of baseline data prior to any impact.
- An open, transparent process for information to be provided and distributed throughout communities.
- Mining companies must obtain free, prior and informed consent from all landholders as per best practice management.
- Mining companies undertaking fracking must be
required by law to respond to the criteria for environmental impact
assessment as per any other significant development.
- Water use by mining companies must come under the
Water Act so that companies taking water for fracking are required to
apply for a water extraction licence.
- Proper resourcing of monitoring and compliance bodies such as the EPA and Department of Mines and Energy.
- Provisions to ensure that the mining company bears
the financial and moral responsibility for any negative impacts caused
- The NT Government ceases the use of taxpayer
dollars to provide subsidies and incentives to mining companies for the
purpose of exploration, extraction and rehabilitation.