The inquiry into fracking being undertaken by the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment is extremely welcome. The technique, under which high-pressure blasts of water, sand and chemicals are used to fracture rock to release gas and oil, has generated a lot of emotion but far too little light. On one side, the Greens have called for a moratorium on fracking despite the lack of conclusive evidence about its ill-effects. On the other, there has been the usual accusation that those opposed to such new practices are Luddites, and the Energy and Resources Minister’s unhelpful statement that “the Greens want a moratorium on everything”. Both sides of the argument stand to gain much from a science-based investigation.
The statement “the Greens want a moratorium on everything” may be unhelpful but it is not without a degree of truth. I recall compiling the list of things they want banned and stopping once it made 100. That was in 2008. I suspect it has grown since then, and they never take things off the list.
Here’s the challenge for the Greens, if they want to be taken seriously on this issue. If the PCE inquiry finds no reason to ban fracking, will the Greens change their policy of wanting a moratorium?
Further can the Greens point to any data or factors which would ever cause them to change their stance on fracking?
As far as I can tell they would only stop opposing fracking if it is proven to be totally safe. Now of course it is absolutely impossible to prove something is totally safe.