In light of the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment (PCE)’s interim report on fracking released today, an alliance of 16 environmental groups, hapu and businesses have signed onto a joint statement, demanding a nationwide ban or moratorium on fracking.
“The PCE report identified many serious issues concerning fracking, from water contamination to air pollution and earthquakes. Putting it mildly, the commissioner described the current government oversight as ‘complex and fragmented’ which may allow important issues to ‘fall between the cracks’. Indeed many things have fallen between the cracks, notably TRC’s prior lack of resource consents for fracking, an issue pointed out by Climate Justice Taranaki (CJT) last year and acknowledged in the PCE report. The commissioner questioned whether companies are being trusted rather too much to all do ‘the right thing’. We say yes definitely too much, when companies have been allowed to self-assess hazardous chemicals for fracking under the HSNO Act. One of her key findings – companies are yet to earn a ‘social licence’ to operate here – clearly affirms our answer,” said CJT researcher Catherine Cheung.
“However, given the now overwhelming evidence of the inherent risks of fracking, inadequacy of our regulatory regime and urgency to get off fossil fuels, we cannot agree with the commissioner’s decision of not calling for an immediate moratorium. This is totally against the precautionary principle. How can our government let fracking continue when it is not even clear who is responsible for ensuring well integrity?” asked Cheung.
The community joint statement issued today lays out the alliance’s key concerns on fracking, namely 1) water, air and soil health; 2) incompatibility with industries that are dependent on a clean, green environment; and 3) climate change driven by fossil fuels. The alliance calls on communities and landowners to ‘Lock the Gate’ – declare their areas ‘frack free’ and deny access to oil and gas companies.
Kanihi-Umutahi Hapu of Ngaruahinerangi, member of the alliance, would like the practise to be totally banned. “However if this is not going to be granted, then there needs to be a moratorium placed on all fracking operations in NZ until it can be proven that it is safe for people and the environment,” said Daisy Noble, Kanihi-Umutahi spokesperson.
“Critically, a World Bank report published this month says that if the current commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are not met, a warming of 4°C could occur by the 2060s, causing unprecedented heat waves, severe drought and major floods in many parts of the world. However the report also asserts that there are technically and economically feasible ways to hold warming below 2°C. As a nation, NZ has the responsibility and capacity to demonstrate to the world that we can do things better,” Cheung continued.
With other alliance members, CJT “urges the NZ government, communities and businesses to move onto developing effective energy transition strategies, affordable public transport systems, and sustainable agriculture that do not rely heavily on petrochemicals.”
The alliance welcomes other organisations, communities and landowners to join them in calling for an immediate ban or moratorium on fracking. To read or sign onto the joint statement, go to https://climatejusticetaranaki.wordpress.com/resources/