The passing of a Bill that will make it possible for fracking companies to sell gas from exploration projects is the latest in a long list of backflips the NT Government has performed to appease the fracking industry.
The NT Government’s decision is in direct contrast to recommendations made by Justice Pepper during the fracking inquiry. In fact, the fracking inquiry specifically warned against “production creep” - allowing production by stealth via exploratory or appraisal fracking.
While minor amendments were moved to the Bill, the government did not remove the provision which allowed for gas to be sold from exploration and appraisal.
Arid Lands Environment Centre spokesperson Hannah Ekin said the Territory Labor Government had backflipped on its promise to implement the 135 recommendations from the fracking inquiry.
“The Bill allows fracking companies to start selling gas without going through the more rigorous assessment process* required to obtain a production licence,” she said.
“It’s a clear example of the Fyles Government caving to the fracking industry - this Bill was developed after gas companies proposed selling gas from an exploration licence in an application earlier this year, even before this law existed.
“It’s an extremely dangerous and risky move at a time when big fracking companies like Origin are pulling out of the Territory, and leaving their tenements in the hands of smaller, less experienced operators.
“Fracking is an inherently risky technique - it has contaminated aquifers, and requires massive amounts of groundwater while producing large volumes of toxic waste.
“Justice Pepper’s recommendations were made so that if fracking occurred, it would have the least possible environmental and social impact.
“The Fyles Government’s foolish decision to override these recommendations threatens the Territory’s unique environment, and the health and wellbeing of its communities.”
*Examples of additional steps fracking companies would need to take to obtain a production licence include:
Prove they are an “appropriate person” to hold a licence
Complete additional environmental studies
Prove they have sufficient “technical and financial capability”