FRacking the NT
… the vultures are circling
In 2018 Northern Territory Government lifted the moratorium on UNCONVENTIONAL GAS exploration in the NT. This moratorium was in place due to massive public outcry against the fracking industry and an overwhelming desire to keep the NT healthy and look at alternative ways to power society and move towards a sustainable future.
For the preceding 18 months there was an ‘independent’ scientific enquiry conducted by a panel of experts from which it was hoped that there would be a total ban on the industry in the NT. There were hundreds of submissions (including our own) and overwhelming public angst against the industry.
From this it was hoped that the PRECAUTIONARY PRINCIPLE would be enacted and save the day.
Sadly we were disappointed.
The enquiry came up with a ‘low’ overall risk rating subject to a massive 135 essential actions being implemented before the industry could start production. It needs to be stressed that this ‘low’ risk rating was based on absolutely everything being undertaken in the spirit of the recommendation being delivered.
This unrealistic expectation is already bearing rotten fruit with some recommendations being watered down or sidelined to a later date. Many fear also that as has often happened in the past, the NT Government will lack both the funds and faith to oversee the recommendations diligently.
To further exacerbate the situation the creative wordsmiths of the fossil fuel industry have created a loophole through which the industry can begin operations before and during any monitoring or establishment of controls. The loophole is that ‘exploration’ activities although presenting the same risk factors as the production phase are still allowed to be undertaken right now.
This effectively negates the ability to obtain true baseline data for the environments against which the fossil fuel industry would be able to be held accountable to. It also means that the industry is operating without ANY of the safeguards and considerations which were deemed essential to a ‘low risk’ level.
Following from this report the cash strapped NT Labour Government led by Methane Mike Gunner have opened up over 80% of the entire NT landmass to the unconventional gas industry for exploration.
In a complete betrayal of their pre-election mandate, the NT Government has jumped on board the fossil fuel express and is now driving the GHG train and every man, woman and child in the NT into becoming the WORLDS WORST GREENHOUSE gas polluters on the planet by a factor of 5 (at 200 tons of GHG emissions per capita).
The appalling thing about this is that this is just for the upstream production phase and does not even account for emissions on gas combustion. To put it another way, in the coming decades, the NT would account for 20 % of Australia’s GHG emissions (up from 3 %).
Although developing the shale gas in the NT is a State / Territory decision to make, there is considerable pressure being exerted from the Federal level through GST distributions. The NT is the most dependent on Federal handouts and just last month (October 2018) it was revealed through FREEDOM OF INFORMATION avenues that the Federal Coalition was referring to the fracking ban lift in formal letters about GST top up payments, leading to questions surrounding whether the Federal Government was blackmailing the NT government into opening up the unconventional gas industry.
This sad situation comes at a time when the effects of climate change are sweeping across Australia in the form of unprecedented heat waves, rainforests on fire in Qld, uncharacteristic storm events and the list goes on. School kids are taking to the streets in mass actions to address the direction that our governments both at the State and Federal level are taking. Adani, oil rigs in the Great Australian Bight, land clearing and subsidies to polluters … it is all part of the same problem.
Fossil fuel addiction and the revolving door of politics and big business.
To make this situation even more unbelievable is that we are now in that time when renewables are actually cheaper than coal or gas. There is NO SENSIBLE SOCIALLY RESPONSIBLE NEED for continuing on this pathway.
Having reached this position in time we (Ethical Adventures) have teamed up with Protect Country Alliance and Lock the Gate to begin the journey of firstly disengaging the NT from the tentacles of the Fossil Fuel industry and working towards changing the role that tourism plays in conservation discussions and actions.