In April 2018, the Northern Territory government announced it would lift a ban on fracking. Given that more than half of the Territory is accessible to fracking, it seems like an endless money pit for Territorians. If only it was all about money.
Around the world, countries are polarised on the issue of fracking, with many like France, Scotland, Spain, New Zealand and Ireland banning it outright and others like Canada, China and the USA with extensive operations. States within countries that allow fracking, often ban it as well - like New York and Maryland in USA and Victoria and Tasmania in Australia.
The infographic above that we found on SBS gives you a pretty good picture of what fracking does. Fracking - more correctly known as Hydraulic Fracturing is relatively new. It's only been around for about 60 years, but the changes in the sophistication of drilling technology along with the search for new resources has bought it to the fore in the last 15 years.
Fracking is a method of extracting fossil fuels from deep underground. It is primarily used for the extraction of gas, but also oil. It involves drilling into the earth, then injecting a combination of water with added chemicals and ‘proppants’ like sand or tiny ceramic beads which breaks up the rock fractures (with gas trapped within) and allows gas or oil to flow to the surface.
Setting aside the fact that gas is a non renewable fossil fuel and our need for it is debatable with so many clean energy sources available, it carries high environmental risk. It has been the subject of widespread criticism due to environmental concerns relating to the quantity of water used, as well as its well researched effects on groundwater and other pollution issues.
Activists, Lock the Gate, are consistent with other conscientious objectors and studies citing that that shale fracking in particular "is an industry that is very thirsty and creates a considerable amount of waste water". Also that "flaring and venting of gas" from fracking projects releases volatile compounds into the atmosphere, which can similarly be dangerous for the environment and human health.
Lock the Gate are a national grassroots alliance who are concerned about risky coal mining, coal seam gas and fracking. The alliance includes farmers, traditional custodians, conservationists and urban residents across Australia:
"THE GAS GETS EXTRACTED AND THE MONEY MADE IN THE FIRST SHORT YEARS OF BOOM TIME, BUT THE LONG-TERM CHANGE TO GROUNDWATER TAKES PLACE OVER DECADES AND CENTURIES. AUSTRALIA'S ENVIRONMENT LAWS ARE SIMPLY NOT EQUIPPED TO DEAL WITH THE DAMAGE THAT OCCURS OVER THESE TIME FRAMES."
GetUp released a campaign this week as Origin just started fracking in the Northern Territory. From GetUp's email:
Together with the billion dollar bailout Scott Morrison promised oil and gas corporations in this week's Federal Budget - it's a climate bomb equal to 22 times Australia's annual carbon pollution.
The lure of government funded subsidies has sent frackers into overdrive and Origin Energy is desperate to be the first to extract oil and gas in the NT.
Origin steamrolling ahead with their fracking is a callous act. Until recently their operations have been shut down because remote Aboriginal communities and Traditional Owners were calling for a halt due to concerns about the risk of spreading COVID into their communities.
Even worse, the dirty energy giant refuses to store their toxic waste water safely. And as the NT faces what is predicted to be the largest wet season in years, monsoons could see Origin's dangerous chemicals flooding across country poisoning the water that remote communities rely on.
For years Traditional Owners have been fighting Origin because they know how dangerous fracking is to water, culture and country. And they're calling for your support.
Lock the Gate say that 37.3% of Australia is covered by coal and gas licences and applications.
From our research Victoria and Tasmania ban fracking; WA allows 2% of the state's area to be fracked; SA has 2%, but already has some of the oldest wells, dating back to the 1960s; NSW has 3%, but the practice is now banned: and there are no fracking restrictions in Queensland or ACT (which has no opportunity anyway).
Images from top: SBS | AAP | Small Caps