Environmental groups have welcomed new rules for hydraulic fracturing, or 'fracking', introduced today by the state government, but have stopped short of throwing their full support behind the new regulations.
Mines and Petroleum Minister Norman Moore today said the Petroleum Environment Regulations aimed to ensure fracking operations were conducted in accordance with best industry practice.
Mr Moore said a key plank of the regulations is to require fracking proponents to publicly announce any chemicals introduced into a well or formation.
Proponents will also have to submit revised environment plans every five years.
But Conservation Council of WA director Piers Verstegen said the regulations failed to explain exactly what best practices would mean.
“Given the high risks inherent in gas fracking, even best practice is likely to have unacceptable impacts on the environment, groundwater and public health,” Mr Verstegen said.
“The principle of best practice is highly problematic as a tool for managing environmental risk.
Fracking, which refers to the process of creating fractures in rock through the injection of fluids to release oil or gas, is largely concentrated in the Perth basin in Western Australia, with several active projects around the Mid West town of Eneabba.
Mr Verstegen said the Conservation Council did not consider best practice to involve gas fracking on nature reserves, farmland or in groundwater areas, which is currently occurring in the Mid West.
“CCWA will continue to push for a moratorium on gas fracking in WA until regulators and industry can guarantee it will be done without putting the environment, groundwater or public health at risk.
“Our position is simple – if you don’t know, don’t go.”