Fact free Frack Free campaigners

July 23rd, 2015

The old saying ‘never let the facts get in the way’ seems to have been applied liberally by Frack Free Northern Territory in a recent opinion piece published in the Sunday Territorian.

In the piece, spokesperson Lauren Mellor goes hard on emotion, but comes up short on facts.

Activist campaigns against unconventional gas development often go straight to scare tactics and emotive claims, and so it is that Ms Mellor lists examples from other industries to try and paint a picture of impending doom if the shale gas industry, using the tried and true hydraulic fracturing process, proceeds in the Territory.

In citing ‘ a growing body of evidence’, Ms Mellor fails to point out that many of the claims made about the shale gas industry in the United States have been found to be either false or grossly overstated.

For example, claims about well failure rates have been repeatedly debunked, yet activist groups continue to point to these claims as some sort of proof that the industry is unsafe.

No less an authority than the US Environment Protection Authority recently released results of a four-year study into possible impacts fracking on water resources, concluding:

“we did not find evidence that these mechanisms have led to widespread, systemic impacts on drinking water resources in the United States”

The facts are simple. Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is an engineering process that has been used more than 2.5 million times worldwide over the past sixty years.

In Australia, fracking operations have been conducted in Western Australia, South Australia, NSW, Queensland and the Territory – without the calamitous effects that activist groups claim.

Frack Free NT’s contention that ‘most Territorians are horrified’ by the ‘threat’ of fracking seems to be based on dubious polling drawn from leading questions – again, designed to scare communities.

For the Territory, the path toward a sustainable unconventional gas industry has been laid out in the Hawke Report – and the implementation of a strong regulatory and industry monitoring framework is the first step in developing an industry that stands to deliver significant economic benefits to the Top End.

Any number of emotive, fear-based claims should not stand in the way.

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