Response to advertising by vested interests
Territorians are clever people. They choose to live in this beautiful part of the world, after all, and they want to see it protected against pollution and corporate greed. This is no doubt, as recent surveys show, part of the reason why 86 percent oppose fracking. Clearly, these clever Territorians have been able to see through the spin and mistruths the fracking industry propagates. Let’s be real here. Not only do fracking companies lay waste to the environment, they’re also increasingly economically unviable. The only people making money from fracking are the executives of some of these companies, many who receive extensive taxpayer funded subsidies, as we’ve seen in the NT already. More than $100 million in government funds have been spent on the fracking industry and it hasn’t returned a cent. These companies are also unethical, as overseas and local examples show. In the USA, fracking company Extraction Oil & Gas paid 18 of its officers and key employees a combined $6.7 million in "retention agreements" three days before it filed for bankruptcy protection. Also in the USA, Chesapeake Energy declared bankruptcy in May after paying $25 million in executive bonuses just weeks before. Then there was Diamond Offshore Drilling, which received a $9.7 million COVID-stimulus tax refund in March and then paid its executives the same amount as cash incentives to remain with the company as it began bankruptcy proceedings.
This dodgy behaviour happens in the NT too. Recent examples in the Territory include APPEA claiming on ABC radio and Mix 104.9 that the Pepper Inquiry had settled all the questions about fracking and found it could be proceeded with safely. This is a totally warped interpretation of what Justice Pepper ruled. On P39 of the inquiry’s report, it says we can’t do the risk assessment on many important issues, especially water systems, until the missing science has been done during the Strategic Regional Environmental and Baseline Assessment (SREBA). This is expected to take at least 3 years and only began this year.
Another example is APPEA talking about fracking gas being a” sensible move to a low emissions future” (NT news Sat 25 Jun ). Fracking gas is an emissions intensive fossil fuel, plain and simple. There’s nothing “transitionary” about it. Fracked gas cannot be a part of the move to renewable energy and low emissions because it is so polluting. The EU recently announced gas would not be considered a transition fuel as the continent towards a zero carbon future. It’s time we in the NT not only followed this lead, but became leaders in our own right in the new renewable energy economy. We’re clever enough, after all.
Economic collapse of Fracking Model
The economics around fracking and fossil fuels in general have changed dramatically since 2015. The fracking process itself has been shown to be economically flawed and the companies that invented the process in the US are now going bankrupt. Reports showed over $300 billion in financial losses and 190 companies bankrupt in the fracking sector. It also showed that $450 billion in investment had been distorted. Investors are now abandoning fracking companies like rats from a sinking ship. The NT, with its dire economic condition, cannot afford to hinge its hopes to a flailing industry. Investing in failing fracking companies will leave a lasting economic and environmental legacy the NT will suffer from for generations.
The world is currently in a gas glut, and fracked gas from the Beetaloo would be among the most expensive gas of all. There is more than enough gas, particularly in Australia, which last year overtook Qatar as the world’s biggest gas exporter, to do what is required to transition to carbon free renewables.
Renewables change to cheaper cleaner energy
Renewables like solar have become much cheaper, much faster than anticipated. The NT has the potential to be a major beneficiary of this revolution in energy but because our politicians have been blind sided by the gas lobby we risk missing the opportunity to develop a genuine economic advantage through cheap abundant energy. Currently we pay around 195.00 a Mw for electricity generation, with renewables we should be able to get that down below $50.00. Why haven’t we started this process?
Health, Water and environmental risks
Research published since the Pepper Inquiry has shown the fracking gas industry and gas in general to be much more polluting than previously thought. New research has also shown the fracking process and its outputs to have many more health and environmental risks as well. This means fracking gas is too polluting and too risky to be used as a fuel in a post carbon economy and has no role in a renewables based energy future.
There have also been many new concerns about leaks and wells allowing pollutants to escape into the air and water systems. The concerns about the implications of fracking for water are more significant today than they were when the Pepper inquiry was conducted.
Why would you inject chemicals into our underground water systems that carry health and environmental warnings like:
- A chemical known to the State of California to cause birth defects or other reproductive harm
- A substance toxic to reproduction. May impair fertility. May cause harm to the unborn child.
- Chemicals with warnings like H412 - Harmful to aquatic life with long lasting effects or
- Chemicals classified as R51/53 which means Toxic to aquatic organisms, may cause long-term adverse effects in the aquatic environment.
Emissions and climate change
As we recover and rebuild post-coronavirus, we must look to zero-carbon industries. Unfortunately for gas companies, fracking doesn’t qualify. Climate Change is here, and it would be madness to pump more government subsidies into tired old fossil fuels.With their subsidies, high costs, economy wrecking processes, and their pollution, fossil fuels must be relegated to history. They have no role to play in our energy future.