Quantcast

Victoria Becomes First Australian State to Ban Fracking

Energy

The state of Victoria in Australia has voted to ban fracking on its territory, further cementing the moratorium first put in place in 2012. It is the first Australian state to impose such a ban.

Australia's indigenous flag is raised in protest to fracking on aboriginal land. Damian Kelly Photography

Premier Daniel Andrews announced Tuesday.

"It is clear that the Victorian community has spoken," the premier's office said in a statement. "They simply don't support fracking. The government's decision is based on the best available evidence and acknowledges that the risks involved outweigh any potential benefits to Australia."

The Victoria government had conducted a parliamentary inquiry into fracking for onshore gas in the state and received more than 1,600 submissions. Most of these were opposed to fracking.

The newly imposed ban will help protect agricultural industries and workers, the government said.

"Our state is the nation's top food and fiber producer with exports worth $11.6 billion," the statement said. "The permanent ban protects our farmers and preserves Victoria's hard-won reputation for producing high quality food."

More than 190,000 people are employed in the agricultural sector in Victoria.

Existing exemptions to the moratorium will continue. Gas storage, carbon storage research and accessing offshore resources are still permissible in the state of Victoria, while exploration and development for offshore gas will also continue.

The government said it will extend the current moratorium on exploration and development of conventional onshore gas until June 30, 2020. Scientific and environmental studies will be conducted on the risks and benefits of drilling for onshore gas, the statement said.

The scientific panel will be headed by lead scientist Amanda Caples, and will include representatives from business, the agricultural sector and the community.

Farmers are relieved that the Victoria government has come down in favor of a ban.

"It has been so heart-wrenching at times, when we thought the drill rigs were coming and there was nothing we could do," dairy farmer Julie Boulton of Seaspray, Victoria, told The Guardian.

"But we pulled together as a community and decided to fight this threat to our farmland, water and health and today's decision is just fantastic—we are ecstatic."

A coalition of rural communities operating under the moniker of 'Lock the Gate' has been working for the past five years to protect their industries and the environment. If fracking hadn't been banned, an estimated 1.4 million hectares of land in the state would be under threat, Lock the Gate coordinator Chloe Aldenhoven said.

"For the farming communities that have been fighting to stop this industry for over five years now, this is a wonderful day," she said. "This decision gives them certainty to move forward, and this decision protects Victoria's vital clean and green image."

The Victoria government was aware of the misgivings of its population, Minister for Resources Wade Noonan said.

"There has been a great deal of community concern and anxiety about onshore unconventional gas—this decision gets the balance right," Noonan said.

Momentum towards a ban increased in April, when EcoWatch reported that a river in South Western Queensland exploded with fire. The Condamine River, the site of coal seam gas operations, had so much gas seeping into the river that it sustained a substantial fire.

Methane was first identified in the river near Chinchilla in 2012, where Origin Energy had been drilling for gas. Locals say that, although some gas does originate from the Surat Basin geological formations, there has never been as much methane in the river. Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham also raised concerns over the length of the gas leak.

The Greens are pleased with the ban, but are frustrated that all onshore gas exploration has not been halted in the state.

"It's disappointing the government is leaving the door open to conventional gas drilling after the next state election," Greens energy spokeswoman Ellen Sandell, who represents Melbourne, told The Guardian.

"We won't stop fighting until all gas drilling is banned."

Up in New South Wales, where the April gas leak was filmed, a Greens MP and energy spokesperson called on the state to follow Victoria's lead and ban fracking

"The Greens are calling on [New South Wales premier] Mike Baird to end the uncertainty for communities by following Victoria's lead and banning coal seam gas and fracking permanently and setting a course towards a renewable energy future," Greens NSW Resources and Energy Spokesperson Jeremy Buckingham said.

A ban also makes economic sense, principal advisor at The Australia Institute Mark Ogge told The Guardian, arguing that the creation of gas-related jobs means even more agricultural jobs are lost.

Banning fracking "is sound economic and energy policy," he said.

"Whatever benefits there are [to Australia's energy industry], have gone almost entirely to the overseas owners of global oil and gas companies licensed to export Australian gas, largely at the expense of Australian businesses and jobs."

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

By Pam Radtke Russell in New Orleans

Local TV weather forecasters have become foot soldiers in the war against climate misinformation. Over the past decade, a growing number of meteorologists and weathercasters have begun addressing the climate crisis either as part of their weather forecasts, or in separate, independent news reports to help their viewers understand what is happening and why it is important.

Read More Show Less

While airlines only serve bottled drinking water directly to customers, they use the plane's water for coffee and tea, and passengers can drink the tap water. Aitor Diago / Getty Images

You might want to think twice before washing your hands in an airplane bathroom.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Individual standing in Hurricane Harvey flooding and damage. Jill Carlson / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

By Allegra Kirkland, Jeremy Deaton, Molly Taft, Mina Lee and Josh Landis

Climate change is already here. It's not something that can simply be ignored by cable news or dismissed by sitting U.S. senators in a Twitter joke. Nor is it a fantastical scenario like The Day After Tomorrow or 2012 that starts with a single crack in the Arctic ice shelf or earthquake tearing through Los Angeles, and results, a few weeks or years later, in the end of life on Earth as we know it.

Read More Show Less
A pregnant woman works out in front of the skyline of London. SHansche / iStock / Getty Images Plus

Air pollution particles that a pregnant woman inhales have the potential to travel through the lungs and breach the fetal side of the placenta, indicating that unborn babies are exposed to black carbon from motor vehicles and fuel burning, according to a study published in the journal Nature Communications.

Read More Show Less

Teen activist Greta Thunberg delivered a talking-to to members of Congress Tuesday during a meeting of the Senate Climate Change Task Force after politicians praised her and other youth activists for their efforts and asked their advice on how to fight climate change.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Ten feet of water flooded 20 percent of this Minot, North Dakota neighborhood in June 2011. DVIDSHUB / CC BY 2.0

By Jared Brey

When Hurricane Michael tore through the Florida panhandle last October, it killed at least 43 people, caused an estimated $25 billion in damage and destroyed thousands of homes.

Read More Show Less
A protestor holds up her hand covered with fake oil during a demonstration on the U.C. Berkeley campus in May 2010. Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

The University of California system will dump all of its investments from fossil fuels, as the Associated Press reported. The university system controls over $84 billion between its pension fund and its endowment. However, the announcement about its investments is not aimed to please activists.

Read More Show Less
Forest fire continues to blaze in Indonesesia on Sept. 18. WAHYUDI / AFP / Getty Images

Nearly 200 people have been arrested in Indonesia over their possible connections to the massive wildfires raging in the nation's forest, officials said this week.

Read More Show Less