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Bravo to ECNT and EDO for fighting Keith Pitt’s fracking grant in Federal Court

Protect Country Alliance stands in solidarity with the Environment Centre NT as it and the Environmental Defenders Office prepare to take on Resources Minister Keith Pitt’s grant of public cash to fracking company Imperial Oil and Gas in court.

Beginning today in the Federal Court of Australia, the ECNT will question the lawfulness of Keith Pitt’s decision to grant up to $21M of taxpayer money to Empire Energy subsidiary Imperial Oil and Gas, and the $50M Beetaloo Cooperative Drilling Instrument grant program from which it is drawn.

The NT Government formally approved Imperial’s exploration fracking project, which will involve the fracking of seven wells, last month.

The project was the subject of a Senate Inquiry earlier this year, following the announcement that the company had received $21 million in taxpayer funded federal grants.

The ECNT will argue in court that Mr Pitt was required to make reasonable inquiries into a range of matters before granting Imperial a large amount of taxpayer money, including how the exploitation of the Beetaloo sub-basin would impact climate change and Australia meeting its Paris Agreement obligations. Specifically, it is alleged that the Minister breached section 71 of the Public Governance, Performance, and Accountability Act (Cth) 2013.

PCA spokesperson Graeme Sawyer said Territorians had a right to be outraged over the handouts being given to fracking companies.

“On the one hand you have the Territory Government limbering up to backflip on its commitment to making fracking companies pay to offset the greenhouse gas emissions they produce,” he said.

“On the other hand you have the Morrison Government funnelling millions of public dollars into these polluting fracking companies.

“Overnight we learnt Empire has signed an MOU with Northern Territory Government owned Power and Water Corporation for the potential sale and transportation of gas from Empire’s NT assets. The distinction between the gas industry and the government is becoming less clear as the days go by.

“World leaders are in Glasgow right now trying to forge a path out of the climate crisis, yet in the NT, the Gunner and Morrison governments are splashing cash on a polluting industry that should be confined to history.

“Fracking the Beetaloo Basin has the potential to unleash a greenhouse gas bomb of up to 1.4 billion tonnes CO2e - that’s two and a half times the amount of Australia’s annual carbon emissions. 

“Traditional Owners have expressed clear concerns about this project, the money it has received, and the way it was assessed.

“On top of the $21 million in federal fracking cash, Empire Energy also received a $5 million tax concession from the Morrison Government. This is corporate welfare on a shocking scale.”


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