A lot of New Zealanders have not yet heard about hydraulic fracturing (fracking), but many of those who do know something about it are worried, and rightly so!
The technique is used to extract ‘unconventional’ oil and gas – that’s industry speak for sources of hydrocarbons that until recently were deemed too expensive or difficult to extract, but as the reality of peak oil kicks in the boundaries are being pushed further out.
The technique has been implicated in serious contamination of water supplies, and a correlation has been drawn between fracking and swarms of earthquakes in at least three American states. It has been banned in France, is under investigation in other European states, and some parts of the US.
Fracking has happened in Taranaki, and has been proposed for other parts of the country, including the East Coast and Canterbury. The industry in New Zealand is staunchly defending the practice, with John Bay, the Chair of the Petroleum Exploration and Production Association (PEPANZ), insisting that problems elsewhere were caused by ‘cowboys’, whom our government would not allow to operate here.
Given the present government’s enthusiasm for extraction of oil and gas, and their willingness to downplay the risks, I’m less inclined to rely on them! The fracking that has occurred in Taranaki was done without resource consents . The Taranaki Regional Council only last month decided that perhaps there had better be a consenting process in future.
The Greens believe in evidence based policy. Much of the evidence we are seeing indicates that fracking is dirty, dangerous, and completely at odds with an intelligent 21st century economic or energy strategy. We want a halt to the practice until we see clear evidence that fracking really is safe, poses no threat to human health; our land, water or level of seismic activity; and that any benefits really could outweigh the costs.
I”m launching a petition that asks Parliament to initiate an independent investigation through the Office of the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, and for an immediate moratorium on the practice until or unless the PCE can give fracking a clean bill of health. I hope you will sign it, and encourage others to do the same.
So download the petition [PDF] here and get people signing it!