Unconventional gas exploration and mining — Moratorium - Motion
Date:Wednesday, June 13, 2012
Extract from Hansard
Resumed from 23 May on the following motion moved by Hon Alison Xamon —
That this house demands that the government place a moratorium on all unconventional gas exploration and mining in Western Australia until such time as it can be assured that such activities will —
(1) Have no impact on local land users, including —
(a) no reduction of available agricultural land;
(b) no reduction in local groundwater levels;
(c) no saltwater contamination of groundwater;
(d) no chemical contamination of groundwater; and
(e) no uncontrolled methane leakage from drilled locations.
(2) Be governed by government regulations that ensure that —
(a) absolute transparency is provided to the public about which chemicals are used in all unconventional gas drilling and hydraulic fracturing (?fraccing?) activities;
(b) rigorous independent testing is conducted on all chemicals before they are used in unconventional gas exploration, drilling and fraccing operations to ensure no adverse impacts on groundwater, human health and the environment; and
(c) any liability for contamination of groundwater, land or community assets be borne by the company conducting the operations rather than the state and people of Western Australia.
HON ALISON XAMON (East Metropolitan) [2.09 pm]: The last time we debated this motion, I was noting that at least the Department of Mines and Petroleum had changed its original position since I first introduced this motion by recognising that there was certainly a need to review the regulatory framework surrounding fraccing. As it stands under the current regime, the reality is that there is no way to be sure about the level of protection that will be afforded to the community. I note that the community has already begun to respond to this by forming groups to protect its interests in the land and the water. It is also concerned about health. We are seeing groups forming in the south west, and we saw that very early on. We are now starting to see groups of farmers and landholders in Eneabba and the midwest, where there has already been and where we will continue to see fraccing. A few weeks ago, the Shire of Carnamah unanimously moved to support this moratorium motion that members have in front of them today. I note that the Western Australian Farmers Federation has also come out in support of a moratorium. Everywhere the unconventional gas industry has taken off, not only has the industry taken off exponentially, but also the community concern surrounding it has increased exponentially. We need to be certain that we have all the regulations and independent monitoring in place before there is any chance of us being left behind by what is anticipated to be the rapid growth of this industry. That is why the Greens (WA) and many others are calling for a moratorium to be put in place until strong transparent regulation and a clear enforcement plan with funding are put in place.
I want to respond to some of the comments that are often put up around the issue of fraccing in Western Australia. For example, I note that industry will often say—it has been repeated by the minister—that this is tried and true technology that has been used in Western Australia for 50 years. I think that is a pretty loose interpretation of fraccing as we know it today. If we really want to go back that far, we could say that fraccing has been occurring since about the 1860s, when people shot water into oilwells with nitroglycerine to rubblise—that is the word that is used—the formation and to increase flow rates and, ultimately, recovery. Effectively, they were chucking dynamite down the wells to enable fracturing. I do not think by any stretch of the imagination we should be saying that therefore we have 150 years’ worth of fraccing history to our name. Basically, we are talking about a very new type of technology that is being used to extract unconventional gas in this state. It is true that hydraulic fracturing has been around in some form since at least the late 1940s, but the reality is that advances in technology and the amount of hydraulic pressure that can be applied now mean that the fraccing that is done today is a completely different beast from that of the 1950s and 1960s. Thousands of times more pressure is available and is being used. So we are talking about a new technology. We are talking about an entirely different beast from what we have dealt with in the past.
Obviously, we know what fraccing is. It involves using a mix of water, sand and chemicals under really high pressure to fracture the gas-bearing material, increasing the amount of contact the well has with the reservoir. This can be done multiple times in any given well, and it will be if there is reason to believe that it will increase gas flow and make money. Warro 3, for example, was fracced in 10 different stages. We know that some unconventional gas reservoirs react poorly to water and have been fracced with base liquids other than water.
This includes liquid carbon dioxide and diesel, such as we saw in the Whicher Range near Busselton. Approximately 40 per cent of the fluid is returned to the surface as produced water and the rest remains underground in the well and the fractures. The waste water, especially waste water that comes back from shale and coal, is often further contaminated with materials native to that coal or shale, depending on the material. It can come back further contaminated with salts, heavy metals and even radioactive particles. We know that we are currently storing this water in triple-lined ponds on the surface until disposal. Of course, we know that the rest of the water is being maintained within the frac itself.
One of the specific concerns is that fraccing is a process that uses a lot of water, and the water is usually sourced locally. I note that the United States Environmental Protection Agency estimates that about 19 million litres is required to drill and frac a well. In answers to questions I have asked, the Minister for Mines and Petroleum has estimated that approximately 300 wells are needed to drain a gas field. Using these figures, 5.7 gigalitres of water is likely to be required to empty a gas field. To put this in perspective, the Karara Mining Ltd water licence, which effectively took the entire allocation of the Parmelia aquifer in the midwest and which local farmers were understandably completely outraged about, was for five gigalitres per annum. To put that further into perspective, it is 10 times the volume that the Department of Water will currently ask for metering and monitoring in areas that are not under pressure, 100 times the amount that the DOW wants to use as that cut-off, and 1 000 times the volume required for metering on aquifers that are under pressure. We are talking about huge amounts of water. Given the location of the known fields in and around Eneabba and throughout the midwest, and the competition that already exists for this water, including by the midwest mining companies, we need to seriously consider the implications for licensing the extraction of this much water for the purpose of fraccing. We also need to ask ourselves very seriously what is the opportunity cost for these communities and existing industries of using the water in this way.
The disposal of contaminated water is also an issue. As I said, the fluid that returns to the surface must be dealt with and disposed of in some way. There have been problems with surface disposal in other parts of the world— that is, treating the waste water and then dispersing it on land. We know that it has led to vast swathes of forests dying in the US, and the solution proposed to that problem was to use yet more clean water to dilute the contamination. I have asked questions of the minister about what is intended, and it has been made clear to me that it is not intended to use surface disposal ordinarily for the disposal of this fraccing fluid unless it is an emergency. So it has not been ruled out entirely. I would be interested to hear further from the minister about what is defined as an "emergency". Effectively, it was intended that it would be kept in ponds and evaporated or else trucked off-site, which of course raises issues itself. The other disposal technique that is commonly used around the world is deep injection wells, but I note that the minister in this place has ruled out deep injection of water as a way to dispose of the waste water. Certainly, I hope that that will be the case.
The issue of earthquakes has emerged around the world. The usual action of fraccing has been associated with earthquakes in the US and Britain. Fraccing usually creates microseismic events, because, after all, it is creating explosions deep underground. We know that on the Fylde coast in Britain, earthquakes associated with fraccing have been even larger at a magnitude of about 2.
One of the prime concerns, particularly for Western Australian residents, is the issue of the chemicals that are used within the fraccing fluids. The chemicals are used for engineering reasons and are therefore, in most part, being treated as commercial-in-confidence. The arguments ordinarily used to dismiss concerns about these chemicals are that they comprise only a small part of the total volume of the liquid used to frac. The Department of Mines and Petroleum says that we are talking about 0.5 per cent. The US EPA says that it is 0.5 per cent to two per cent. It is never precise, depending on where the frac is occurring. What we do know is that it can take as much as 19 million litres of fluid to frac a well, so that could work out to as much as 85 000 to 380 000 litres of unknown chemicals per well. At 300 wells per field, that is a lot of unknown and potentially toxic chemicals to be transported and to be fracced into the ground. By "unknown", I mean that the public does not know what the chemicals are and the Department of Mines and Petroleum cannot tell us. Of the ones we know might be used for fraccing, the National Industrial Chemicals Notification and Assessment Service, otherwise known as NICNAS, has so far assessed only four for their environmental and health impact when used for fraccing. The DMP cannot even release the material safety data sheets on these chemical mixes, which is supposed to be publicly available information, to the owners of the land on which the well is located. We at least have a commitment from the minister that no BTEX chemicals will be approved for use—BTEX refers to the toxic chemicals benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylenes. But in response to public pressure, the industry has started putting on line some information regarding the chemicals. I will say that they talk about these chemicals as being household chemicals and walnut husks to try to claim that we are effectively looking at no danger at all. I am saying that thousands of litres of household chemicals are nothing to be dismissed. There is a reason we do not let our kids, for example, drink them. The information available does not say very much at all. More important, we still do not have any of the third-party research from a reputable government or academic organisation to confirm that the health effects of these chemicals have been tested and found to be safe for the purposes they are being used for and that, more important, they will be safe if accidents happen. Unfortunately, accidents inevitably do happen.
Then there is the issue of methane. Apart from the contamination of unknown chemical additives, there is also the concern that methane might get into our groundwater. Methane is not a contaminant in and of itself; it is not particularly toxic. It is, however, very flammable. Importantly, it is a very potent greenhouse gas. The United States Environmental Protection Authority has just come down with new rules about well completion that mean that new well completions cannot vent or flare, but they must track and sequester the gas produced in testing. This, hopefully, will serve to substantially reduce the volume of greenhouse gases escaping into the atmosphere. At the very least, we will need similar rules in WA.
Moving onto the issue of greenhouse gases more specifically, unconventional gas is being promoted by the petroleum industry as a clean energy, and there has been a lot of discussion about the relative greenhouse gas impacts of shale gas in particular. I note that Howarth’s original April 2011 study out of Cornell University put the carbon footprint from shale gas drilling at 130 to 200 per cent of that of coal. There has been much modelling and much argument about this, but wherever we are at with it, we seem to be at a point where unconventional gas emissions are deemed to be equivalent to those of coal. Certainly, that is where the parliamentary committee that looked into coal seam gas in New South Wales eventually landed. The point of a transition fill is that the footprint is meant to be smaller than the same energy value of a traditional fossil fuel such as coal. The thing is, if unconventional gas is no better than coal, even if it is marginally better than coal, and as I say, there are arguments to say it is even worse, surely we would hope that the risk associated with extracting it are no worse than those for extracting coal. I do not think any of us can make that claim.
I want to now talk a little bit about how things can go wrong and what happens if this stuff gets into our groundwater. There are the issues of the casing and the cement. A properly constructed well uses casing cemented to the walls of the well to fully and effectively block the inside of the well from the surrounding ground. Ideally and usually, nothing goes wrong and the gas and liquids on the inside of the well remain entirely separated from the earth and liquids on the outside of the well. However, let us not be naive; there is a rate of failure for casings. I have seen rates of failure quoted at five per cent of casings failing immediately, and at two per cent over the course of a decade or so. I asked some questions of the minister on this; I asked about the failure rates of wells in WA because I would have been very surprised if the answer had been zero. The response I have had at this point is that it would mean that all wells would need to be checked and that that would create practical issues of workload. But I have had it confirmed that some corrosion has been identified and subsequently remediated. Bearing in mind we are looking at the early ages of the industry at this point, I am not particularly comforted by that. Casing can crack, but it is far more likely that the cause of any issues will be faults in the cement job. Currently, the schedule of onshore petroleum exploration and production requirements 1991 does not require cement logging to confirm that the well is properly sealed and that there are no issues. The pressure testing required tests only the quality of the cement bond at the bottom part of the well. As part of my response to the draft environmental regulations, I suggested that cement bond logging for the entirety of the well should be a requirement. These sorts of regulations will minimise the potential for interaction with aquifers. I have recommended that—I have to be honest, I have not recommended it because I am a genius—because I have petroleum engineers working with me who work in the industry, who have expressed their own concerns and who are making very clear that these are the sorts of things they think are lacking in our current regulatory framework and that they want to see included. The issue of the casings remains an ongoing concern after wells are abandoned. Time will have its effect on unmaintained casings and cement. As I mentioned earlier, a whole lot of the contaminated water remains in the well along with gas flowing at uncommercial rates. The potential for contamination through this pathway remains long after the productive life of the well has ceased.
The other really big concern in relation to both chemicals that go into fraccing fluid and the contaminated wastewater is the potential for leakages and spills at the surface. Currently, wastewater is usually stored in ponds near the wellhead. I have been assured that the ponds are separated from the ground by at least three layers of PVC. However, concerns about ponds remain certainly due to volatile organic compounds evaporating into the air and the effects of flooding—this will particularly be an issue in the wet season in the Kimberley—and what will happen to the site when the gas extraction is finished. How will that site be eventually cleaned up and remediated? The chemicals are trucked in so there is always that risk of accidents on the road, but in this motion I have not gone into detail of concerns about transport.
There are also issues about agricultural land. In the specific wording of this motion I have referred to concerns about the potential reduction of agricultural land. This is also an issue of major concern to the communities starting to be affected by gas exploration in our northern and southern Perth basins. The nature of unconventional gas is that many, many more wells are needed to drain a gas field than are required for conventional gas. Each well pad requires approximately three hectares of land plus the space for roads and pipelines. When announcing the halving of royalty rates for the unconventional gas industry, the minister noted that approximately 10 times the number of wells would need to be drilled to extract the same amount of gas. In other jurisdictions, that has looked like a well every couple of hundred metres with a spaghetti of road and pipeline connections holding it all together. All we need to do is look at some of the images of the gas fields in Chinchilla in Queensland or the shale gas fields in the USA to get an idea of what we are talking about. AWE in the midwest has stated that with horizontal drilling and fraccing it hopes to separate its well heads by a couple of kilometres. It is a nice hope and I, for one, certainly hope that if this is going to go ahead, it will be able to do so. If none of the gas companies is able to do that—from previous experience with the shales in the US, it does not look like they will—what will happen to those farms with basically a spaghetti of wellheads and roads and pipelines?
This is not just potentially a huge reduction in agricultural land; it also makes what is left much more difficult to farm with the need to dodge gas field infrastructure at every turn. In my discussions with the Western Australian Farmers Federation it became clear that not only do they have no right of refusal, which I and other people in this place already know, but also their huge concern is that they will be held liable for any damage done to gas field equipment while they attempt to duck and weave around it trying to carry out the normal activities of farming. Farmers are not permitted to say no. I know of two cases so far in which gas companies have threatened to take farmers to court to enforce access to land. As I understand it, one has now been settled but only on the grounds of issuing some compensation. This is happening to our farmers in WA right now. I have further heard that the issues of the loss of land value and the inability to get business loans that have plagued the farmers over east is starting to impact on our farmers here. I am asking how this can possibly be considered a good outcome for our rural communities and for our food security into the future. To add insult to injury, the compensation offered under the Petroleum and Geothermal Energy Resources Act is usually only the value of the land required for the well pad; not considered are changes to farming practices that are required, all the risks to future business and the potential for contamination of land.
Where is it happening? The Department of Mines and Petroleum has estimated that about 10 per cent of Western Australia is prospective for shale gas. We have three basins that we either know or think highly likely will contain unconventional gas. The Canning super basin underlies a large part of the Kimberley and is estimated to hold at least 200 trillion cubic feet of gas. The Perth basin lies along the coastline from Busselton up to Carnarvon and beyond, and is the most advanced in moving towards production. The onshore Carnarvon basin lies between Shark Bay and Exmouth and inland. I note that the Officer basin is just starting to be explored, but we do not think there is anything in the Eucla basin.
Right now we are expecting that the next three fraccing jobs to take place will be in the north Perth basin near Eneabba; we are going to see Senecio-2, Arrowsmith-2 and Woodada Deep-1 this month. In the Canning Basin, Buru is confident that its discoveries in the Valhalla Paradise region will be backed up with more gas shows out of the Laurel formation. Other explorers are looking into the Goldwyer formation, which is also in the Canning Basin, and which alone is expected to account for more than 200 trillion cubic feet of gas. There is scope for considerable commercial interest in unconventional gas resources in the Kimberley. The onshore Carnarvon basin is still in the very early stages of exploration, but given the success of the offshore Carnarvon basin gas field, I would not be surprised if we end up seeing petroleum onshore as well.
This means that a large part of our productive farmland lies over the top of areas where we can reasonably expect to see shale gas development. We need to get the regulation right now, before there is a massive industry. The key things we are asking for are regulations to guarantee that there is no reduction in available agricultural land; no reduction in local groundwater levels; no saltwater contamination of groundwater; no chemical contamination of groundwater; and no uncontrolled methane leakage from drilled locations. From what I have already said, we can see that this is a tricky proposition; it requires land use planning and recognition of the primacy of agricultural land for agricultural purposes. It requires the acknowledgement of the very real risks posed by fraccing and simply ruling some areas out of contention. It requires absolute expertise in the department, strong regulations and a strong monitoring program. It requires the ability to legally enforce these things, and it requires industry expertise to operate safely without jeopardising the health of farmland and the environment—expertise that appears to be lacking in so many examples globally.
In relation to regulations and transparency, the Department of Mines and Petroleum last year commissioned Dr Tina Hunter to report on the state of regulations covering unconventional gas. The findings of the report were not particularly comfortable reading, especially for me, after I had been told time and again that the onshore sector was being regulated incredibly well and that there was no need to further review anything. Instead, we found out that the environmental management plans—which consist of the promises made by companies in secret, because the people of Western Australia are not able to see them—are not legally enforceable. The most that can be enforced is a $10 000 fine for failing to follow a ministerial direction. As members can imagine, that is not very impressive when we consider that drilling and fraccing costs millions of dollars.
As a result of the report, the DMP committed to undertaking some regulatory reform, so we saw draft environmental regulations come out for public comment in December 2011; public submissions closed at the end of February 2012, and I was one of the people who put in a lengthy submission. I note that fines are yet to be determined. The draft regulations provide a bit more transparency. A summary version of the environmental management plan is to be made available, but there is no way that one could say that this goes anywhere near far enough. The required contents of the summary document are not even specified. I would argue that the entirety of the EMP should go public, along with the environmental risk assessments that come before the management plan. I would also like to see stringent monitoring requirements and those results made public. Only chemicals that have been assessed for safety by a third party, such as the National Industrial Chemicals Notification and Assessment Scheme, should be used in fraccing. It would be best if advice on the effects of the specific chemicals on the environment and potentially on human health were also to be made available through the department. That is absolutely my preference, but I understand that fraccing is going ahead right now without that knowledge being made available to anyone outside the department. At the very minimum, the material safety data sheets for these chemicals should be available to the public, and especially to those landholders who have properties where fraccing is occurring. I cannot overstate the level of community concern about this. The government must respond, and by that I do not mean it should just say that everything is fine; I mean it should actually ensure transparency so that people can make up their own minds.
The recommendations of the New South Wales parliamentary inquiry into coal seam gas provided some further ideas for reform that could be instituted here. These include putting the monitoring and enforcement of environmental conditions on unconventional gas under the EPA to address any appearance of conflict of interest and creating a petroleum ombudsman to investigate and make binding recommendations on matters relating to the exploration and extraction of unconventional gas.
I refer now to the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association Ltd’s code of practice. I met with APPEA in the middle of last year and it assured me that it would put together a voluntary code of practice. It has done so, and I would describe it as a series of sweet nothings under the name of a code of practice. There was some suggestion that a lot of the issues around transparency, community engagement and fair dealings with landowners could be managed through industry’s own practices. I would argue that that has not been the case to date, so already I think that the spirit of that has not necessarily been followed. In any event, I would argue that the code of practice does not go far enough and that it does not consider the future needs and planning of the communities where companies wish to operate. Importantly, it is not enforceable—not by APPEA, not by the communities and not by government. Even when I met with APPEA, it admitted that there would be nothing it could do if a rogue operator came into the picture and violated the code of practice, so my message to APPEA is that if it is happy to abide by a code, it should put some meat on it and welcome the enshrining of the specifics into binding regulations. Any company that has the intention of doing the right thing in the first place should never be afraid of having a code of practice backed up with enforceable laws.
I turn now to the issue of liability. Given the ways in which contamination can occur and that the possibility of problems will not disappear when production shuts down, we need to ensure that any liability for contamination of groundwater, land or community assets is borne by the company conducting the operations, rather than the state and people of Western Australia. I do not want to see a repeat of what we have seen with the uranium industry; there is the real potential for the cost of clean-up operations to go on and on, and the public will be left to pay for it.
Serious risks are associated with fraccing. France, Bulgaria and various townships in the US have voted to ban fraccing. The state of Vermont signed its fraccing ban into law just last week. It is a little rich to somehow suggest that the Greens or other Western Australian environmental groups are just going around spreading fear about this issue; this is a global concern, in the eastern states and right around the world. Why would anyone be so naive as to ignore the fact that, wherever this industry has sprung up, concerns have followed? It is a new technology that in no way could be considered to have been tried and tested to an adequate degree. In fact, where it has been tried and tested, numerous problems have emerged that are yet to be resolved. Clearly, these countries and the other states in Australia have seen that the safest way to manage the environmental and health issues associated with fraccing is to, at the very least, impose a moratorium until they can actually figure out exactly what they are dealing with. More and more of them are moving to ban this practice altogether. We need to look at fraccing in depth, and we need to be to be dead sure that our regulations and monitoring regimes can handle it, both as the proto-industry it is now and as the behemoth it looks to become. We need to do that before we approve any more fraccing.
To its disgrace, the Environmental Protection Authority has been completely missing in action on this issue. Despite referrals of planned fraccs to the EPA, it continues to refuse to assess any of the fraccing operations and says that it is waiting for significant expansion before it is prepared to show any interest. I have referred four hydraulic fracturing programs to the EPA: Warro-4, Arrowsmith-2 and Woodada Deep-01 in June 2011, and Senecio-2 in August 2011. Despite this, and the fact that we are in the really early days of the industry and now would be the time to try to make sure that it is being assessed and is okay, all were deemed by the EPA to not require assessment. Warro-4 already had permission from the Department of Mines and Petroleum and was fracced in August 2011 while the EPA was considering the matter, so the EPA did shift its consideration at that point to Warro-5, 6 and 7. I did subsequently appeal the Warro decision, and I note the Conservation Council of Western Australia appealed all the decisions. The Appeals Convener came out with quite an interesting response; basically, it recommended that the minister could effectively decide to go either way and compel the EPA to go ahead and check what was happening here, or not. Regardless of that, the minister’s decision was to not uphold any appeals and to not require that the EPA do its job. Even though, effectively, the Appeals Convenor was giving the minister the opportunity to intervene—here I am talking about Minister Marmion—the minister still chose to completely turn his back on this issue and did not make the EPA do its job. The EPA produced bulletin 15 ?Hydraulic fracturing of gas reserves?, which was published in September 2011. I will paraphrase and give members the short version, which is that the EPA was not going to look at any ?proof of concept? wells—even though it is the same technology and risks and we should be doing it now rather than waiting for a large investment. I am sorry, members, that last comment was mine. The EPA said that the cumulative impact needs to be better understood. I will just point out that it is the EPA that should be doing that work and not just acknowledging the gap—and some more transparency would be nice. Again, the EPA noted that the agency taking it up is the DMP, but not to the level required.
Finally, as an aside, I would like to point out that the EPA has decided to assess precisely zero—that would be duck egg—of the 62 proposals referred to it in the 12 months to 31 May 2012. Goodness knows what the EPA is doing, because it is certainly not doing its job!
In some ways, I really do not blame the DMP for doing what it is doing because I recognise that the job of the Department of Mines and Petroleum is to extract as much oil, gas and minerals as it can. That is its job. The fact that the EPA as the independent regulator is utterly missing in action and is completely failing to do its job is an absolute disgrace. We need an independent regulator. The time to assess the industry is now. The Appeals Convenor has accepted that there is a sound argument to make the assessment at those early stages; however, as usual, Minister Marmion has ignored the opportunity to compel the EPA to do its job. I understand there is a lack of expertise within the EPA, but it should source it from elsewhere. The lack of political will on this issue is absolutely galling.
I will say again that I met with the EPA last year, and it had not even been aware that previous fraccs had occurred and it had not been confirmed whether there ever was fraccing at Woodada Deep, which should have been the subject of an automatic referral under the DMP–EPA memorandum of understanding due to its proximity to a wetland. Certainly, the EPA told me that it was unaware of it.
The New South Wales inquiry confirms what I have been saying all along. We are in a unique position to get all of our planning, legislation and regulation right before this industry turns into an unstoppable juggernaut. We should put a moratorium on fraccing now. We need to keep it in place until everyone—regulators, industry and most importantly the community—are confident that fraccing can be done without putting our environment, our livelihoods and our futures at risk.
I seek leave to move a further amendment to my motion.
The PRESIDENT: Hon Alison Xamon has moved the motion that is on the notice paper and she is seeking leave to move a further amendment to that motion. Is leave granted?
Hon Norman Moore: No.
The PRESIDENT: Leave is not granted.
Hon Norman Moore: Mr President, forgive me. We do not know what we are voting on. The member has talked about some form of amendment, but we do not know what it is.
Hon Alison Xamon: I am happy to read out the amendment, minister.
The PRESIDENT: I will take it back one step. I will ask for the leave the member is seeking after the member has had a chance to read the amendment to the motion and explain it.
Amendment to Motion
Hon ALISON XAMON: The reason I am moving this amendment to my motion now rather than when I had put this original motion is that I want to add an additional point. I move —
(1) To insert (a) after "That this house" in the first line.
(2) To insert the following paragraph at the end of the motion —
(b) Calls on the Minister for Environment to direct the Environment Protection Agency to thoroughly investigate and review the risks of hydraulic fracturing technology and to assess all current and future proposals to undertake hydraulic fracturing in Western Australia.
By way of explanation, as I have already outlined, at the time that I put this original motion on notice, the EPA had not had any involvement; since then, it has had multiple opportunities to actually do its job and to assess the impacts of fraccing. The EPA has completely refused to do this, and the minister responsible, the Minister for Water; Environment has also refused. I still maintain that we absolutely need a moratorium in place to ensure that the regulatory regime is sufficient, but we also need the EPA to do its job and to assess the fraccing.
Amendment to Motion, as Amended
Hon JON FORD: I move without notice —
To delete all words of the motion after "government" and insert —
ensure the Environmental Protection Authority has assessed extractive activities associated with unconventional gas exploration to establish there are no unacceptable environmental and social risks associated with these activities
Debate adjourned, pursuant to standing orders.