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The Arid Lands Environment Centre (ALEC) and the Environment Centre NT are calling for a moratorium on approvals for non-conventional gas extraction and fracking while the review of the NT Water Act is underway.
The call for a moratorium is in response to an announcement by Canadian gas giant, PetroFrontier, that it plans to use horizontal fracking techniques in the Georgina Basin, 450 kilometres north of Alice Springs.
ALEC Coordinator, Jimmy Cocking said: “The environmental risks that fracking and experimental shale gas exploration pose on groundwater health in the Northern Territory are compounded by the exemptions of these activities from the Water Act and Waste Management and Pollution Control Act.
Petrofrontier publicly stated in March this year that it could operate economically even if the regulations under the Water Act were strengthened and the exemptions for gas, mining and petroleum activities were removed.
Cocking said: “If Petrofrontier believes it can operate without these exemptions, the challenge to our politicians encouraging the mass extraction of minerals, gas and petroleum from the Northern Territory is to end the exemptions enjoyed by miners from some of our key environmental laws.
“We need to protect our groundwater resources first and foremost by ceasing all experimental gas fracking until at the very least, the exemptions from the Water Act and Waste Management and Pollution Control Act are removed.
Environment Centre NT acting director Jess Abrahams said: “NT Labor and the Country Liberals need to show they are serious about protecting our Territory environment and way of life from the increasing pressure to mine, blast, drill and frack some of our most special and most sensitive places, including our National Parks, rivers and waterways.
“We need stronger laws to protect our environment from mining, fracking and pollution. An end to exemptions from the water and pollution laws, and a ban on exploration for minerals and oil and gas in our National Parks and water bodies is an obvious place for both parties to start.”
The environmental groups are calling on all aspiring Northern Territory parliamentarians to commit to removing the exemptions for gas, mining and petroleum activities from the Water Act and Waste Management and Pollution Control Act.