'Fracking debate must include shale gas industry impacts'


p2298-shale-fracking-rigLETTER TO THE EDITOR
Sir – While a temporary pause on shale gas fracking is keeping unconventional gas safely in the ground, a dangerous amount of hot air is being produced by gas industry lobbyists failing to admit risks to Territorians.
The Australian Petroleum Production & Exploration Association (APPEA) has this week produced a new campaign film featuring David Armstrong, a land access negotiator with undisclosed links to fracking companies. He calls for debate to focus on the shale gas industry rather than the “tainted” mining process known as fracking.
I quote Murray Hockey, owner Hodgson River Station: “APPEA is right in understanding their industry is on the nose in the Territory but continually downplaying impacts to existing businesses remains unconvincing when you look at the experience of unconventional gas in QLD.
“The only ones getting a reward from the development of polluting and disruptive fracked gasfields across the landscape are the gas companies. Pastoralists and the tourism sector gets all the risk when this invasive industry operates on our land.”
Years ago, local businesses in Queensland’s Darling Downs were sold the same promises by APPEA but the reality has been very different, with an enormous downside felt by other industries.
• In QLD, research funding by the gas industry showed that onshore unconventional gasfields actually led to the deterioration of local infrastructure including roads. Source: Centre for Social Responsibility in Mining, University of QLD.
• In QLD, local businesses reported that financial capital, infrastructure, labour force skills, social networks and the environment was all made worse by unconventional gas mining. Source: Centre for Social Responsibility in Mining, University of QLD.
• CSIRO studies showed that for every 10 gas jobs created, 18 jobs in agriculture were lost. They also showed that skilled gasfield jobs rarely go to locals. If they do, they tend to poach skilled workers from existing businesses. Source: Gas Industry Social and Environmental Research Alliance (GISERA) 2014.
• QLD royalty projections have been repeatedly slashed to a small fraction of original projections.
I agree with APPEA in suggesting widening the scope of debate to shale gas, as it would allow the Gunner Government’s inquiry to conduct a more honest appraisal of the full lifecycle risks of shale gas production.
The APPEA video admits that fracking is just part of the shale gas process, yet they fail to mention associated risks like water pollution and depletion, thousands of trucks, landscape destruction, compression stations and the hundreds of gas wells landholders will be forced to deal with.
Farmers and landholders currently have no say over shale gas access to their property. What many Territory cattle stations are calling for is the right to say no to shale gasfields.
A halt to fracking gasfields means we not only protect the Territory’s precious water resources, but our critical pastoralism and tourism sectors too and the thousands of jobs they support.
Naomi Hogan
Lock the Gate NT


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