Following more than two and a half years of investigation, the WA Parliament Environment and Public Affairs Committee has released a report which broadly supports the existing regulatory framework in place for the onshore oil and gas industry in Western Australia and effectively endorses the continued use of hydraulic fracturing.
The report, ‘Implications for Western Australia of Hydraulic Fracturing for Unconventional Gas’, contains 51 findings and 12 recommendations and while it notes some areas where legislative changes could be made, principally the report outlines the robust regulatory environment which currently exists in WA.
Of particular note, the report has found that the risks associated with aquifer contamination and seismicity are negligible.
In a statement, the Committee states that:
“[It] has found that there is significant concern amongst the community about the risks associated with hydraulic fracturing but at the same time, there is a level of misinformation present in the public domain that can cause confusion and mistrust.”
Importantly, there was no support for a moratorium from the committee and ultimately the report’s recommendations accept that hydraulic fracturing can be conducted safely provided appropriate regulations are in place and minimum standards are implemented.
Unsurprisingly, the Conservation Council has been quick to criticize in the inquiry, but failed to address any of the substance contained in its recommendations, instead repeat inaccuracies the committee had just discredited.
The findings of the WA Inquiry adds to the long list of previous inquiries that have found the practise of hydraulic fracturing, and the onshore oil and gas industry at large, can be developed safely.
Aspects of the unconventional gas industry have been examined by Parliamentary committees and Departmental studies in the Commonwealth, New South Wales, Victorian, Tasmanian, South Australian, Western Australian, Northern Territory & Queensland jurisdictions
In addition, there are countless authorities here and internationally who have researched and disproved activist claims of environmental damage and the supposedly terrible threat created by the onshore oil and gas industry’s operations.
In the words of one of the recommendations in the report:
“(T)hat any future consideration of hydraulic fracturing for unconventional gas in Western Australia be based on established facts, ascertained through baseline data and monitoring, with a view to strengthening the industry’s social licence to operate.”
We couldn’t agree more.