The Guardian • Issue #2052


In their words: “No fracking”

  • The Guardian
  • Issue #2052

Amid opposition from Indigenous owners and in the face of a growing environmental crisis, the NT government has given the go-ahead for fracking in the Beetaloo Basin. Since the government released the three-year study – the Pepper Inquiry – of the Beetaloo Basin in April, 100 scientists have published an open letter urging the NT government not to go ahead with the scheme, due to the environmental damage it will cause in the area.

Alice Springs GP Dr Rosalie Schultz, a member of Doctors for the Environment, said the offsets process in the Pepper Inquiry has been farcical. Dr Schultz said that the decision by the NT Government to allow fracking at the Beetaloo Basin did not meet all the points listed on the Pepper Inquiry checklist, despite the government’s claim to the contrary.

The land and water resource in the area that will be irreversibly transformed belong primarily to the traditional owners and more broadly to the Australian people.

Dr Schultz said she did not believe that the NT government’s ability to offset gas emissions from the project would be met. The scientists jointly estimated 89 million tonnes of emissions would be added to the environment if the fracking goes ahead.

Other scientific studies indicate that a rise in emissions will intensify bushfires, floods, and death of coral reefs. Environmental groups say the study’s parameters for the Pepper Inquiry were too limited and did not address the concerns raised in the open letter.

The 89 million tonnes of emissions calculated once Beetaloo Basin begins the work are four times the current emissions of the NT.

The open letter begins with the demand “Stop Fracking and Protect Our Climate.”

It continues: “The science has not changed and in 2023 the situation has only become more urgent. The impacts of climate change, driven by fossil fuels, are escalating. Our ecosystems and way of life are under threat, and many areas will become uninhabitable if emissions continue to rise.

“The Northern Territory is particularly vulnerable to these impacts. The International Energy Agency, the United Nations and scientists globally, including over 100 prominent Australian scientists and experts have called for an end to new fossil fuel developments.

“Despite the clear connection between fossil fuel expansion and climate change, the Northern Territory government continues to pursue fracking in the Beetaloo Basin.

“In 2018 it committed to implement all the recommendations of the Scientific Inquiry into Hydraulic Fracturing in the Northern Territory [Pepper Inquiry], including that the NT and Australian governments seek to ensure that there is no net increase in the life cycle GHG emissions emitted in Australia from any onshore shale gas produced in the NT.

“The Northern Territory government has failed to keep its commitment. Allowing large scale gas production in the Beetaloo Basin could add 89 million tonnes of emissions to our atmosphere annually, equivalent to four times the current emissions of the Northern Territory and 18 per cent of Australian emissions, which is unacceptable.

“Many of us called for ban on fracking in the Northern Territory in 2018 and again in 2021 because of the damage it will inflict on our climate. We call on the Northern Territory government to end fracking in the Northern Territory.”

Traditional owner Johnny Wilson said: “Fracking companies are still not listening to the wishes of traditional owners who do not want thousands of flaring wells that will destroy our country. No one we speak with has ever understood, or now understands, the scale of what’s coming.

“We’ve not received the promised clear, accurate information about the impacts of fracking, and interpreters still aren’t provided at meetings by gas companies.”

Those gas companies are Tamboran Resources, Empire Energy, and Santos.

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