Western Australia places moratorium on fracing

The Western Australian government has joined the growing number of Australian states and territories to place a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing.

The Western Australian government has joined the growing number of Australian states and territories to place a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing.

Premier Mark McGowan announced this week that his government was banning existing and future fracing petroleum titles in the Perth and southwest regions of the state, while imposing a state-wide moratorium pending an independent scientific inquiry.

The inquiry will be headed by Tom Hatton, chairman of the Environmental Protection Authority, and will assess the risk and regulations governing fracing used to develop and produce unconventional oil and gas reserves.

The decision has met with harsh criticism from the Australian Petroleum Production & Exploration Association. Stedman Ellis, chief executive of the association’s Western Australia branch, said an inquiry by the Environment and Public Affairs committee has already declared that fracing posed a “negligible risk” to the environment.

The findings, Ellis said, echoed those of more than a dozen other inquiries in Australia as well as numerous independent reviews and studies that all confirmed that fracing is safe.

Ellis claimed that the effective moratorium on all fracing projects that has been in place since the MacGowan government came to power in March has stalled $380 million (Aus.) in investment in new projects.

“[Western Australia] does not need another fracing inquiry,” Ellis said. “What it desperately needs is new jobs, investment, and royalties to help repair the state budget. The industry should be allowed to get on with it.”

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