The issues around social licence for the fracking process are complicated and lots of deliberate misinformation is being pushed at people to confuse the issue further.
- There is no social licence for fracking in the NT
- Deliberate misinformation is a real problem with community understanding
- The industry lobby groups have "captured" government
- The too close relationship between vested interests and public servants and the revolving door of people being employed on both sides of this relationship is a huge problem globally and in the NT
- Unethical corporate behaviour is a significant problem
- Enormous subsidies are one example of this unbalanced relationships
Deliberate Misinformation campaigns
Make no mistake, this is a deliberate strategy by vested interests and ranges from the large scale misinformation campaign funded by the fossil fuel industry through to things like APPEA misrepresenting the Pepper inquiry. Glencore and others have been shown to deliberately fund misinformation campaigns
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.
The implications of 1.5 degrees of warming are alarming with 70-90% loss of coral reef systems and unknown implications for mangrove systems around the NT caused at these levels. Again, we have little to no science to guide this but we have already seen significant mangroves die off around the Gulf of Carpentaria and coral bleaching. Community feedback clearly shows that opening new gasfields through onshore fracking is not possible if Australia is to make serious steps to reduce carbon.
One of the implications of this situation is the economy distorting subsidies that support the fossil fuel industry.