Western Australia’s peak environment group today expressed concerns that the Department of Mines and Petroleum (DMP) has formed an unhealthy relationship with the unconventional gas fracking industry in Western Australia.
“No one has shown that gas fracking can be done safely. People are worried about their water, and those concerns haven’t been addressed yet – not even close”, said Conservation Council of WA Climate and Energy spokesperson Jamie Hanson, “Instead of protecting West Australians from dodgy operators, the DMP is spending its money trying to convince farmers, health professionals and ordinary householders that they shouldn’t be worried about what the gas fracking industry wants to do to their water.
“The DMP has a staff whose entire job it is to try and win a ‘social licence’ – that is, local compliance – for risky projects. The department calls these workers ‘policy officers’, but really they’re just doing PR for the mining industry at taxpayers’ expense.
“While the DMP is trying to convince people that fracking is safe, they’re already funding it on the side. Already $27 million of Royalties for Regions money has been earmarked for ‘innovative’ drilling in greenfields areas – code for fracking. What that means is that WA’s regional areas are subsidising the owners of wealthy Sydney or London based petroleum companies. But Royalties for Regions money was never meant to flow into the pockets of those guys - it was meant to help out WA’s disadvantaged regional communities.
“The latest example of this pattern of public advocacy for private industry is the so-called ‘public forum’ that the DMP is co-presenting with industry peak group the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association (APPEA) in Port Denison today.
“Why is the government co-presenting these events with the mining industry peak group? Surely that pre-empts the result. If the DMP were even handed there’d be representation at these types of events of groups representing both the environment and public health – not just mining.
“One thing is for sure: you can bet the people of Port Denison won’t be told about the concerns that lead Europe’s governing agency, the European Commission, to find earlier this month that fracking poses a high risk of pollution to groundwater, to surface water, and also a high risk of atmospheric pollution.
“The DMP needs to remember who it works for – the people of WA. Not the gas frackers of Sydney and London.”
For further comment:
Jamie Hanson, 0449 971 229
John McCarten, 0403 900 193