Articles in the Regional Media

October 2nd, 2015

ERIC director Steve Wright has been active in the press recently with a few Letters to the Editor.

Below are a few of his pieces from the South Eastern Times, The Herald Sun and the Penola Pennant.

 

Penola Pennant Herald Article

South Eastern Times

 

 

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  1. Brewster on 2 October, 2015 Reply

    Hi I would like to share some thought that I penned after reading about some of the coverage which appeared in the local press in the South East of SA, where Doctors for The Environment (DEA) made such unsubstantiated claims and biased speech. The following was sent to the local press for publication to achieve some balance in the discussion.
    I write in relation to a number of recent articles in The Border Watch in relation to unconventional gas and fracture stimulation (fraccing).
    Again there are numerous unsubstantiated statements and hyperbole to plant the seed that oil & gas drilling and a drilling technique (fraccing) is somehow ‘bad’.
    Claims about smelling rotten egg gas? (natural gas is odourless), earthquakes, health concerns, animal health concerns, silica in the sand used for fraccing (better not go to the beach anymore!) and so on and so forth. When one scary story runs out of steam, simply find another.
    The overseas ‘fact finding’ tour has been described by one participant as disappointing and one sided. A summary of a ‘fact finding’ tour that only spent time with like minded anti fraccing and anti fossil fuel activists!
    Interesting, the group of recent commentators featured in The Border Watch also comprise of representatives of the medical profession, such as Doctors for the Environment Australia (DEA), which, like most anti fossil fuel campaigners utilise unsubstantiated reports and ‘news’ from the USA that fraccing ‘may or could’ cause harm’ to heighten the anxiety level of your readers.
    The DEA is an anti fossil fuel and a political advocacy lobby group, on a mission to discredit each and every doctor in our society through over reaching in its statements, using innuendo, hyperbole and misinformation, and tagging the word ‘Doctor’ as part of its organisation to give it some sort of credibility.
    A defining characteristic of the medical profession is the diagnosis and treatment of health issues on a platform of an evidence based, objective, clinical analysis of the facts.
    Consistent with this underpinning professional approach, DEA would be better served in name and action by sticking to the facts and not relying on unsubstantiated hearsay reports from anti fossil fuel campaigners. A point of clarification for the DEA, the NSW Chief Scientist released her report into coal seam gas (CSG) in Sept 2014, not 2013, so many of the unsubstantiated reports into birth weights were already available for her review.
    The Norwood Resource (TNR) has a mission to provide the facts and evidence relating to the potential impact of oil and gas exploration on the environment and circulate this into the community. There are many unsubstantiated stories that abound from which many anti fossil fuel advocates pick and choose from to have the most emotional impact upon an unsuspecting public.
    These stories are designed to generate fear and emotional blackmail amongst the gullible in the community. They ‘stick’ in the minds of the content-hungry media and commentators, as well as the general public, making it increasingly difficult to achieve a balanced debate based upon facts and evidence.
    So, what are the facts? This is the remit of the current Natural Resources Parliamentary Committee Inquiry whose terms of reference are focussed around unconventional gas (shale, tight gas and CSG) and fracture stimulation (fraccing).
    There is often much confusion in the public about CSG, fraccing and unconventional gas. The anti fossil fuel activists want all of these banned immediately, and indefinitely, despite gas and oil drilling and production having been safely undertaken onshore around the world for over a hundred years. Without the use of the wide range of products derived from oil and gas source materials, the impact on our daily lives would be dramatic, removing indispensable items, including fuel, plastics, computers, mobile phones and even wind farms.
    Fracture stimulation is a production technology employed by the industry for more than 65 years (40+ years in Australia), with over 2 million wells stimulated around the world, without any serious environmental impact.
    In South Australia and Queensland, fracture stimulation has been used in the Cooper Basin on wells drilled through the Great Artesian Basin (GAB), an essential aquifer for ground water for stock and domestic use, without any detrimental impact. There are cattle stations producing organically certified beef in the same area. Proof that agriculture and the oil and gas industry can happily coexist.
    Earlier this year the UK passed legislation to permit fracture stimulation below 300 meters. In the in the southeast of South Australia, over 100 wells have been drilled and there has been gas production (and gas processing plants) operating for many years, without any adverse impact on agriculture, health, the environment and the ‘clean green’ image of the area.
    Over the years there have been many, many inquiries and engineering studies into fracture stimulation and its impact on groundwater, health, and the environment. The outcome of the rigorous inquiries into fracture stimulation by the UK Royal Society and the Royal Academy of Engineering is best summed up by the UK’s Chief Scientific Advisor, Professor Sir Mark Walport, who stated: “What the science and the engineering tells you is that this is just a drilling technology and no drilling technology is completely risk free.. But if it is engineered well, if it is done well, if it is governed well, then, it is as safe as any other form of drilling, recognising that there is no ‘free lunch’, there is nothing that is completely risk free”
    Further, the USA EPA recently released a draft report, which after four years study of many thousands of wells which have been fracture stimulated stated that they “did not find any evidence… that led to widespread, systemic impacts on drinking water resources in the United States”.
    Contrary to the views expressed by some of the anti fossil fuel voices, of particular concern is the regulatory regime which needs to be robust and diligent. We are indeed fortunate in SA, since the SA Regulator has been independently assessed as being in the top three regulatory regimes in the world for shale and tight gas, in which fracture stimulation is frequently required.
    I am sure that the anti fossil fuel activists in their ‘research’, to determine the ‘facts’ would have noted that (since some are from a medical background) there has been a long term health study of employees in the oil & gas industry. Perhaps not, or I am sure they would have (in achieving balanced debate) mentioned it.
    Since 1980, the Australian Institute of Petroleum (AIP) has sponsored Health Watch, which has, and continues to, track 20,000 past and present petroleum industry employees. The report concludes: “The study clearly shows that petroleum industry employees have better health than the Australian community and are less likely to die from cancer, and from heart, respiratory and digestive diseases than the general population”.
    I hope this assists your readers to understand that fracture stimulation is not a new technology, nor has it caused widespread mayhem that some of the anti fossil fuel activists claim, rather it is a well understood production technique which has led to many benefits with many attributing fraccing to be one of the major reasons the USA has significantly reduced its greenhouse gas emissions since 2005, by replacing coal with gas for electricity generation.
    For further information, I recommend readers review “The Facts’ published by the SA Govt at http://www.statedevelopment.sa.gov.au/upload/Fracking/thefactsguide.pdf

    Bruce Holland
    Secretary
    The Norwood Resource

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