Activists protest global gas fracking conference

June 29, 2012

A community protest of up to 30 people was held outside a global shale industry conference in Perth on June 28. Campaign group No Fracking WAy organised the protest. The two-day conference on global shale gas development put on by the Electric Utility Consultants, Inc (EUCI) at the Seasons of Perth Hotel, 37 Pier St, Perth.

The protesters held up banners, sang anti-fracking songs and heard from several speakers about the problems with the shale gas industry, which is expanding rapidly in Western Australia.

No Fracking Way spokesperson Farida Iqbal told Green Left Weekly: “We are opposed to the expansion of the shale gas industry in WA, because of the environmental and health risks of the shale gas industry and fracking (or hydraulic fracturing), the process typically used to extract the gas.”

The state government has granted exploration licences for unconventional gas over a tenth of the landmass of WA. The government and industry proponents take great pains to try to distinguish shale and tight gas — most of the deposits being actively pursued now — from coal seam gas extraction in the eastern states.

The controversial fracking process injects water and chemicals underground at high pressure to crack the rocks unlock the gas. It is often used to extract all three types of unconventional gas.

Commercial-scale unconventional gas fracking was pioneered in the US’s shale gas fields. Fracking is reported to have led to the pollution and depletion of ground and surface water.

Leakage and venting of natural gas into the atmosphere gives shale gas a “greenhouse gas footprint ... considerably greater than that for coal or diesel oil,” according to findings published by a Cornell university research team.

The shale gas conference cost more than a $1000 a head, making it unaffordable for many concerned members of the community to go along and have their concerns heard.

“We want more public discussion of the issues around shale and other unconventional gas,” Iqbal said. “The public has a right to unbiased evidence-based information, to counter industry spin.”

No Fracking WAy aimed to send a clear message to people attending the conference that many people in the community are opposed to shale and other unconventional gas extraction.

Iqbal said: “We will continue to push for a moratorium on unconventional gas extraction and fracking until and unless it can be proven safe for the environment and human health.”

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