John Butler: Have your say on the fracking industry

John Butler wants to remind people to voice their concerns about the onshore gas and fracking industry in WA by entering a public submission to the state government’s fracking inquiry.

Last year, the WA government banned fracking in the South West, Peel and Perth metro area and could support a state-wide ban following a scientific inquiry.

Mines and Petroleum Minister Bill Johnston said the government recognised the need to protect WA’s environment from risks associated with fracking and would consider community’s views.

Butler said we need to think of the farmers in the Mid West who grow our food and deal with their bores being contaminated along with our brothers and sisters in the Kimberley who were inundated by this industry.

“At the moment the Kimberley has 40,000 different proposed licences for fracking, that is one well for every person in the Kimberley,” he said.

“People are still extremely concerned about the fracking industry, and relieved it is banned in the South West, for this government, but there is still quite a lot of interest for conventional gas lurking around the South West.”

Seeing what happened to the Condamine River in Queensland made Butler realise the potential consequences of drilling through aquifers and putting water supplies at risk.

“There is enough evidence now through community, industry and science to say fracking is a volatile unknown commodity as far as the technology they are using to extract shale and tight gas,” he said.

Not only are there hundreds of unknown chemicals used by the industry to extract gas, Butler said once you started cracking shale and tight gas, carcinogenic natural chemicals such as benzene were also released.

“To think it won’t make it back into our water table, our most precious resource, just seems ludricous,” he said. 

For an industry that had a questionable history around the planet, Butler said for them to go into communities where they were not wanted and remove their social licence was probably one of the most undemocratic things you could do to citizens in any nation.

Rather than pump billions of dollars into the fossil fuel industry, Butler would like to see a government invest our greatest minds and money into renewable energies.

“If we entertain populating other planets I think we actually have new and existing technologies that could drastically change the game, if only we had the will.

“If we put the billions of dollars into subsidising the coal and other fossil fuel industries, god only knows what we would have right now.” 

Community members can express their views to the inquiry online at frackinginquiry.wa.gov.au until March 19.

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