Majority of Beetaloo inquiry submissions oppose gas cash splash
The Senate Inquiry into fracking in the Beetaloo Basin commences today, with a majority of submissions opposing public funds being spent on the controversial gas project -and a joint submission from the Northern Territory’s Mining and Environment Minister to the inquiry has raised concerns about the independence of decision-makers.
Of the publicly available submissions to the Senate Inquiry, which include submissions from Aboriginal health organisations, climate scientists and environmental groups, over 80% oppose public funds being spent on fracking the Beetaloo Basin.
The Federal Government has announced $50 million of taxpayers money will be spent to support gas expansion in the Beetaloo, with Resources Minister Keith Pitt recently preemptively announcing $21 million of public funds for three new fracking exploration wells.
Graeme Sawyer of Protect Country Alliance said that Territorians were united in their opposition to the Beetaloo Basin project.
“Fracking the Beetaloo is an endeavour that only makes sense to a Federal Government that is captured by gas industry interests,” he said.
“As Territorians battle extreme heat, droughts and bushfires driven by the climate crisis, adding a destructive fracking project that has been described as a “carbon bomb” for greenhouse gas emissions is like throwing petrol on a fire.”
“With demand for gas shrinking in the Australian markets as renewables take the lead, and key LNG export markets like Japan signalling a move away from gas, the Beetaloo project will not even realise the economic benefits the Government is spruiking. Instead, taxpayers will be funding yet more short-term gas industry development and risk being left carrying the can for expensive stranded assets.”
“The preliminary water study research shows a massive increase in risk to water systems and organisms like Stygofauna. This shows clear risks to other industries across the region and should be raising concern within government. Instead the responsible minister, the Environment Minister, choses to write a supporting statement to the Inquiry about economic benefits.”
The Northern Territory Environment Minister Eva Lawler, and the Minister for Mining and Industry Nicola Manison have made a joint submission to the inquiry, expressing support for the Beetaloo fracking project, particularly on economic grounds.
Samantha Lillie of Lock the Gate Alliance said that the joint submission was indicative of the lack of independent oversight on gas development in the Territory.
“The Beetaloo project has not received Territory environmental approval, and Eva Lawler, as Minister for the Environment, is a decision-maker on the project. It’s disappointing to see her making a joint submission to the Senate Inquiry with the Mining Minister in support of the destructive Beetaloo Basin project, which will damage our land and water and fuel the climate crisis,” she said.
“The joint letter of support with the current Resources Minister is a concerning development - as it sends a disturbing message that approvals for major fracking projects yet to be decided upon are already a done deal - and the final decisions have already been preempted, outside full and proper environmental processes and against community wishes.
“The Northern Territory government is allowing the gas industry to run rampant, prioritising gas development over the needs of the community and environment. We need our Environment Minister to take a step back from mining interests and exercise the independent oversight the Beetaloo fracking project sorely needs.”
Senate Inquiry into Oil and gas exploration and production in the Beetaloo Basin Public Hearing
8:30am, 28 July 2021
Live stream link: https://www.aph.gov.au/News_and_Events/Watch_Parliament#t2-content-panel
9:40am - Graeme Sawyer, Protect Country Alliance
10:50am, Rikki Dank, Traditional Owner of the Empire Energy fracking lease area