The Government of the Northern Territory of Australia has been issued a letter by one of the panel members of the Northern Territory’s fracking inquiry stating that it failed to implement a number of the panel’s recommendations for the Beetaloo Basin project.
According to Dr David Richie, the letter’s author, the Beetaloo Basoin gas project fails to follow recommendations on the impacts it will have on climate change and the lives of local people.
Dr Richie expresses concern around “the inadequacy of meaningful engagement with Aboriginal people in remote communities about their traditional concerns – particularly the use of ground water”.
Recommendations made by the panel in the original inquiry include recommendations to mitigate the risk of excessive greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, the risk of distrust in government and the risks to Aboriginal people and their culture.
Northern Territory Chief Minister Natasha Fyles has given the go ahead for fracking to begin in the Beertaloo Basin stating that the government has “absolutely met” all 135 recommendations. She told reporters that: “We have strengthened government agencies, we have strengthened legislation to rigorously assess environmental management plans.”
An open letter, signed by more than 100 scientists and coordinated by think tank the Australia Institute, calls for a ban on fracking in the Northern Territory. The letter states that one key element of the inquiry has not been met; namely, to ensure that “there is no net increase in the life cycle GHG emissions emitted in Australia from any onshore shale gas produced”.
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Fracking in the Beetaloo Basin
The Beetaloo Basin, about 500km south of Darwin, stretches across 2.8 million hectares. Environmentalists resisted fracking in the basin in 2018 and again in 2021. The basin holds shale oil and gas, which developers believe can be extracted by injecting high-pressure fluid into the bedrock.
Fyles told reporters that the government has: “strengthened regulatory framework, ensuring greater transparency and accountability – and with Aboriginal people having a seat at the table”.
She went on: “We have a large emitters policy, we have a climate change policy and in regards to scope 2 and 3 we acknowledge the work that needs to be done with the commonwealth government who we are partnering with.”