WA Government introduce new fracking controls

Photo from 2016 when South West MLC Sally Talbot, Collie MLA Mick Murray and to-be-premier Mark McGowan were in Capel  to announce they would ban fracking in the South West.
Photo from 2016 when South West MLC Sally Talbot, Collie MLA Mick Murray and to-be-premier Mark McGowan were in Capel to announce they would ban fracking in the South West.

Hydraulic fracturing to extract unconventional gas will not be permitted over 98 per cent of WA and, for the first time, traditional owners and farmers will have the right to say no to oil and gas production from fracking on their land.

As part of the WA Government’s response to an independent scientific inquiry, fracking could only be approved on land covered by existing exploration and production licences, or about 2 per cent of WA.

Fracking unconventional gas will continue to be banned in the South West, Perth and Peel regions. 

Water Defenders Australian Alliance WDAA spokesperson Lisa Chatwin said populations in the 2 per cent of areas where fracking could go ahead was sparse which made those communities an easy target.

Ms Chatwin said their organisation would continue to protest and support farmers and traditional landowners in WA regions where fracking could go ahead.

“We want the government to understand this is not an us and them issue,” she said.

With 50 scientists handing in a petition warning the premier about the impact of gas fields on global warming, Ms Chatwin said it did not matter if fracking occurred in the Kimberley or here it could still affect everyone.

“On talk back radio the premier suggested that fracking gas was a clean transitional energy source,” she said. 

“Mr McGowan has completely dismissed the science which suggests methane is 86 times more powerful than carbon dioxide.

“He has completely ignored all the scientific data in relation to the North West offshore gas project, data that discusses all the carbon dioxide emission this project is emitting.”

The state government have stated royalties from any unconventional onshore oil and gas projects would be used to support new renewable energy projects via a Clean Energy Future Fund with a $9 million seed allocation.

The royalty rate for unconventional oil and gas will increase to 10 per cent, the same rate that applies to conventional petroleum production.

Premier Mark McGowan said to ban fracking on existing petroleum titles after the scientific inquiry found the risk from fracking was low, would undermine WA’s reputation as a safe place to invest and do business.

“At the same time, it is crucial that the industry demonstrates that it has the support of landowners who, for the first time, will be able to say yes or no to any fracking production on their land.”

Following the state government’s announcement, the senate voted down an Australian Greens motion condemning the WA Labor government for lifting a moratorium on hydraulic fracture stimulation.

WA senator Jordon Steele-John said it was clear the WA Labor party, who had taken more than $1 million in donations from resource companies in the last two decades, could not be trusted to take decisive action on climate change.

Mr Steele-John said WA was the only state that had seen a significant increase in greenhouse gas emissions since 2000, which was largely due to the predominance of conventional gas projects.

He questioned how the state government could expect to lessen WA’s contribution to climate change, and lower its damaging impacts with such an expansion to the gas industry.

“A recent report from the IPCC warned that we have just 12 years to halt the worst impacts of climate change and keep global warming to a maximum of 1.5 degrees Celsius,” he said.

“Given WA is already going backwards in its commitments to addressing climate change, the addition of fracking to our extractive industry mix will see our GHG emissions skyrocket out of control.

“We don’t need gas; these are resources that will be extracted from our fragile ecosystems in places like the Kimberley and shipped overseas by the large corporations who line the pockets of the major parties come election.

“This toxic industry has no social license in WA and we must not let it go ahead for the sake of our environment, for the sake of our precious water and for the sake of our commitment to address climate change.”

Environment Minister Stephen Dawson said it was the government’s responsibility to deliver positive outcomes, based on a robust, independent scientific inquiry, in the best interests of all Western Australians.

“This policy strikes a balance between ensuring positive environmental outcomes and a prospering economy,” he said.

“Greenhouse gas emissions are an important issue for Western Australians. We will embark on renewed action on emissions.

“Gas is part of the transition to a clean energy future, with emissions from gas much lower than other baseload power production.

“With the new strict controls in place and the establishment of a Clean Energy Future Fund, we’re setting up our state for the long term and a transition to renewables.”