18/11/2015 - 05:19

Confusion and mistrust in fracking debate

18/11/2015 - 05:19

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A parliamentary committee report on fracking in Western Australia has found that there is misinformation in the public debate on the issue and made 12 recommendations to the state government for regulating the industry.

Confusion and mistrust in fracking debate

A parliamentary committee report on fracking in Western Australia has found that there is misinformation in the public debate on the issue and made 12 recommendations to the state government for regulating the industry.

Tabling the report in the Legislative Council yesterday, standing committee on environment and public affairs chair Simon O’Brien said the committee had viewed a range of evidence and submissions, and additionally looked at the preparedness of regulators for an expansion of the industry.

“The committee found significant concern amongst the community about the risks associated with hydraulic fracturing, but at the same time there is a level of misinformation present in the public domain that can cause confusion and mistrust,” Mr O’Brien said.

“This report has investigated the main areas of concern raised by the community, including land access and the rights of resource companies to enter onto private land, the chemicals used during hydraulic fracturing and their potential risks, how much water is used and alternatives to taking water from aquifers, and the legacy of hydraulic fracturing on land and on communities.”

Changes proposed reportedly included higher fines for companies contravening regulations and full disclosure of chemicals used in the process.

The committee’s investigation started more than two years ago.

APPEA chief operating officer (western region) Stedman Ellis said the report showed any concerns about fracking could be addressed through robust regulation and ongoing monitoring.

“This mirrors the findings of numerous other inquiries and reviews here in Australia and overseas which have found that with careful regulation and industry best practice, fracking can be done safely,” Mr Ellis said.

“The public can take confidence from the fact that the committee has broadly endorsed WA’s existing regulatory framework for onshore gas while making a number of sensible recommendations to enhance safeguards.”

It isn’t the first report giving fracking a tick.

Last year, the NSW chief scientist concluded fracking was a low risk extractive process and the United States Environmental Protection Agency gave fracking the all-clear in a massive study with more than 950 sources earlier this year.

Business News covered off on some of the issues covered in those reports and spoke to Minister Bill Marmion about the state government’s position in July.

Conservation Council of Western Australia director Piers Verstegen said it was a myth that fracking could be done safely.

“Regardless of what the report says, a growing number of communities facing the prospect of fracking have made up their mind that this industry is a bridge too far and a risk too great,” he said.

“In the absence of credible information from government, people are doing their own research and reaching their own conclusions about this high risk industry.”

The report comes just weeks after a new land access agreement template released by the Australian Petroleum Production & Exploration Association, WAFarmers, The Pastoralists and Graziers Association of Western Australia and VegetablesWA that was intended to simplify negotiations for explorers with agricultural land holders.

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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