Labour should join call for immediate moratorium on fracking

Today Labour renewed its call for an investigation into hydraulic fracturing, or ‘fracking’, and its implications for New Zealand. This is welcome news and the Greens have been working for some time to raise awareness about fracking and its serious potential environmental impacts.

Last week Bulgaria became the second European country to ban fracking, joining a growing list of states and regions worldwide to introduce moratoriums and bans on fracking, including NSW, Quebec, parts of USA, and France. It’s no wonder: the evidence of the hazardous effects of fracking on both environmental and human health continues to mount up. Along with serious groundwater contamination and air pollution, growing evidence suggests that fracking does indeed cause earthquakes, despite industry claims to the contrary. This is of course particularly disturbing considering the earthquake prone regions of Hawke’s Bay and Canterbury where fracking could occur.

Considering these potentially disastrous impacts, the Green Party supports the call for an investigation by the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, but calls for an immediate moratorium to be put in place until such time as the investigation can prove that fracking is safe to both human and environmental health.

Fracking has now been taking place in New Zealand since 1993, so we’d also like to know why Labour let this practice occur in the first place, while they were in Government. Considering Labour’s concerns, they should commit to backing the call for an immediate moratorium, the only way we can safeguard our rights to clean water and air and a safe environment. 

Download our petition for an immediate moratorium on fracking here!

13 Comments Posted

  1. There were 2 earthquakes in the North West of England – an areas not known for seismic activity- during april and May of 2011. Seismic experts concluded that it was ‘highly probable’ that these and a series of aftershocks, were the result of ‘fracking’ at a nearby site to extract gas. Since the second earthquake these operations have been halted.

    It is utterly incomprehensible, but sadly not surprising, that we are now considering the extended use of fracking anywhere in New Zealand. It simple shows that the $ signs in the eyes of this government are once again blinding them to the potential consequences.

  2. Its also worth noting that the earthquakes were probably not caused by the actual fracking, but by the disposal by injection of water:

    This is actually reasonably well known, and has been studied for years (in fact, injection is done into known faults to generate earthquakes are part of research into predicting earthquakes!). Note that water injection for storage is done in many places as well.

    May also want to look at the Oklahoma geological survey investigations into fracking, or the article from that evil corporate right-wing stooge paper, the Huffington Post:

    The typical energy released in tremors triggered by fracking, “is the equivalent to a gallon of milk falling off the kitchen counter,” said Stanford University geophysicist Mark Zoback.

  3. It has been suggested that injecting fluids into the ground (such as fracking) increases the probability of small earthquakes, which actually decreases the probability of larger, more destructive earthquakes. The small earthquakes relieve the stress thus avoiding the big quakes when the stress builds up.

    However some of the other problems with fracking need careful monitoring and regulation – something the National government is not known for. Therefore I don’t agree with fracking for those reasons – and we don’t really need the gas yet.


  4. Hello! Canterbury!! Earthquakes!!! Fault lines!!!!

    Is it really a smart idea to try to incite the existing unsteady geology to fuck us over even more?

  5. Agree, BJ.

    I would like to see some research done into it. If we get a decision wrong, I hate to think of the consequences. I just want some solid analysis done first as Gareth suggests. I’m just suggesting he does it in a less alarmist fashion. Or perhaps thats just why I’m not cut out for politics 🙂

  6. Fracking is not by itself causative. I think that’s basically true. You have to have faultlines through the area to get the worst effects.

    Where in NZ are there no faultlines?

    The problem is that HERE the combination that causes the problem has to be assumed to be present if Fracking is added anywhere. That assumption has a consequent that we ought not be permitting it.

    Which puts an almighty big hole in any plan for increasing our consumption of non-renewables.


  7. Hey Gareth,

    Don’t you think you’re being a wee bit alarmist?

    Will happily join the bandwagon on high volume hydraulic fracking. And if it’s into tight gas or shale gas wells, then I look forward to signing the partition. Otherwise the science on low volume fracking seems pretty tight and it seems a fairly legitimate way of mining gas.

    Also, it may pay to be a wee bit more careful when citing evidence to support your arguments as in the case of the Ohio article above. On further investigation, it seems that the fracking was already happening in an area of geoinstability and over known faultlines. Added to this no scientific study has as yet been completed into wether the fracking is the direct cause with the very article you describe saying:

    “Scientists who have been studying the area say that while the fracking does not create the problem from scratch, it does exacerbate the problem by increasing the damage to an existing faultline.”

    And what they say there contradicts the articles title! Fracking is, by itself, not causative!

    So if we’re going to go in with all guns blazing, Gareth, lets at least be armed with fracts – errrr, I mean facts – and not a great deal of hyperbole. To do otherwise is irresponsible and emotive in the extreme.

  8. “..

    “..“…The rural town of Dimcock, Pennsylvania, in the US, rests in the rolling hills in Susquehanna County.

    It used to be picturesque – but today it boasts more blight than Appalachian charm.

    In 2009, local claims of water contamination by Dimcock’s residents had reached almost hyperbolic proportions –

    – with reports of wells spontaneously combusting- kitchen faucets spouting corrosive liquids – pets mysteriously shedding their hair –

    – and morning showers resulting in skin lesions.

    This is probably because the town, which is home to fewer than 2000 residents, sits on top of the Marcellus shale –

    – a massive formation of sedentary rock that the US Department of Energy estimates contains some 262 trillion cubic feet of valuable and recoverable natural gas.

    “It probably transforms the US energy outlook for the next 100 years,” Tony Hayward, the former chief executive officer of the oil company BP, has remarked.

    The oil was extracted using hydraulic fracturing – also known as ‘fracking’…”



  9. Why should we sign it? We have no idea if it’s a tiny bit of contamination, if it’s permanent or temporary, if contamination already exists and has proven not to be a problem, etc. And you’ve given us no graphs to provide statistical perspective.

    You need to give us a real presentation/argument first. People shouldn’t be signing petitions blindly.

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