This piece originally appeared as a Letter to the Editor of the West Australian newspaper on Wednesday 27 September 2017.
South-West people are entitled to ask questions about any form of development, as they have in the case of the Government’s announced inquiry into use of hydraulic fracturing for natural gas.
In the broader context, beyond Margaret River, it is worth noting that some correspondents to The West last week were painting a dramatic picture that is not reflective of true experience interstate and overseas.
Hydraulic fracturing (using water pressure to make hairline cracks in the strata a kilometre or more underground) has been safely used to release trapped gas for decades in South Australia, NSW, Queensland, the NT and in Europe, Canada and the USA.
Doctors for the Environment (‘Health hazards in fracking’ The West, 22 Sept.) is an anti-gas activist group which has made a number of unsubstantiated assertions. They repeat claims made by individuals in south-west Queensland which were twice shown to be unfounded – by Queensland Health and also by an independent medical team.
Other repeated claims from the USA have also been shown to be nothing more than claims. Gas industry people have lived near wells and worked in gas plants for several decades in SA and for almost 20 years in NSW. In the USA and Canada, the history goes back to the 1950s. There is no incidence of health impacts.
Natural gas has provided a boon for WA through the highly successful operations of local and global companies such as Woodside and Chevron (North-West Shelf).
The Chevron execution of oil and gas development on the A-class nature reserve of Barrow Island is a strong example of how the industry can successfully co-exist: A record of 50+ years of development, on a sensitive site, without health or environmental impacts.
Director, Energy Resource Information Centre