Quantcast
Energy

Victoria Becomes First Australian State to Ban Fracking

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."

Show Comments ()

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Sponsored
Energy
Part of the Sunoco Mariner East pipeline network in Pennsylvania. Robert Nickelsberg / Getty Images

Another Sinkhole Opens Along Controversial Mariner East Pipeline Route

Sunoco's controversial Mariner East pipeline project in Pennsylvania is beginning 2019 on unstable ground, literally. A sinkhole opened in the suburban development of Lisa Drive in Chester County Sunday, exposing the old Mariner East 1 pipeline built in the 1930s.

Keep reading... Show less
Climate
Southwest Greenland had the most consistent ice loss from 2003 to 2012. Eqalugaarsuit, Ostgronland, Greenland on Aug. 1, 2018. Rob Oo / CC BY 2.0

Greenland Melting 4x Faster Than in 2013, and From an Unexpected Source

Greenland is melting about four times faster than it was in 2003, a new study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found, a discovery with frightening implications for the pace and extent of future sea level rise.

"We're going to see faster and faster sea level rise for the foreseeable future," study lead author and Ohio State University geodynamics professor Dr. Michael Bevis said in a press release. "Once you hit that tipping point, the only question is: How severe does it get?"

Keep reading... Show less
Energy
Seismic tests are a precursor to offshore drilling for oil and gas. BSEE

Judge Halts Seismic Testing Permits During Shutdown

Finally, some good news about the otherwise terrible partial government shutdown. A federal judge ruled that the Trump administration cannot issue permits to conduct seismic testing during the government impasse.

The Justice Department sought to delay—or stay—a motion filed by a range of coastal cities, businesses and conservation organizations that are suing the Trump administration over offshore oil drilling, Reuters reported. The department argued that it did not have the resources it needed to work on the case due to the shutdown.

Keep reading... Show less
Renewable Energy
Pxhere

DiCaprio-Funded Study: Staying Below 1.5ºC is Totally Possible

Climate change has been called the biggest challenge of our time. Last year, scientists with the United Nations said we basically have 12 years to limit global warming to 1.5ºC to avoid planetary catastrophe.

Amid a backdrop of rising global carbon emissions, there's a real case for pessimism. However, many scientists are hopeful of a way out.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Insights/Opinion
Martin Luther King Jr. at steps of the Lincoln Memorial where he delivered his famous, "I Have a Dream" speech in 1963.

MLK Would Have Been an Environmental Leader, Too

"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s words and actions continue to resonate on the 90th anniversary of his birth.

As the country honors the life and legacy of the iconic civil rights leader today, we are reminded that the social justice and the climate movements are deeply connected.

Keep reading... Show less
Animals
A great tit family and nest. Bak GiSeok / 500px / Getty Images

Climate Change Leading to Fatal Bird Conflicts

By Marlene Cimons

Most Europeans know the great tit as an adorable, likeable yellow-and-black songbird that shows up to their feeders in the winter. But there may be one thing they don't know. That cute, fluffy bird can be a relentless killer.

The great tit's aggression can emerge in gruesome ways when it feels threatened by the pied flycatcher, a bird that spends most of the year in Africa, but migrates to Europe in the spring to breed. When flycatchers arrive at their European breeding grounds, they head for great tit territory, knowing that great tits—being year-round European residents—know the best nesting sites.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Climate
Brazil, Pantanal, water lilies. Nat Photos / DigitalVision / Getty Images Plus

Saving the World’s Largest Tropical Wetland

Most people have heard of the Amazon, South America's famed rainforest and hub of biological diversity. Less well known, though no less critical, is the Pantanal, the world's largest tropical wetland.

Like the Amazon, the Pantanal is ecologically important and imperiled. Located primarily in Brazil, it also stretches into neighboring Bolivia and Paraguay. Covering an area larger than England at more than 70,000 square miles, the massive wetland provides irreplaceable ecosystem services that include the regulation of floodwaters, nutrient renewal, river flow for navigability, groundwater recharge and carbon sequestration. The wetland also supports the economies of the four South American states it covers.

Keep reading... Show less
Politics
Demonstrators participate in a protest march over agricultural policy on Jan. 19 in Berlin, Germany. Carsten Koall / Getty Images Europe

35,000 Protestors in Berlin Call for Agricultural Revolution

By Andrea Germanos

Organizers said 35,000 people marched through the streets of the German capital on Saturday to say they're "fed up" with industrial agriculture and call for a transformation to a system that instead supports the welfare of the environment, animals and rural farmers.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!