Lobby groups speak out on blocked Lake Eyre Basin fracking report | The North West Star | Mt Isa, QLD

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Lobby groups speak out on blocked Lake Eyre Basin fracking report

A leaked report from an independent scientific panel commissioned by the Queensland government was against fracking the Lake Eyre Basin

Interest groups have spoken out after the Queensland government blocked the public release of a report which recommended the ban of fracking in the Lake Eyre Basin.

On Wednesday the Guardian Australia website revealed a leaked report from an independent scientific panel commissioned by the Queensland government wanted no fracking the Basin.

The report, which the Palaszczuk government blocked from public release and ruled subject to cabinet confidentiality recommended recommended the exclusion of gas wells in Channel country floodplains, and unconventional petroleum and gas production be designated as an “unacceptable use” in the area.

The Western Rivers Alliance says that despite the report, the government released proposed regulations for the Lake Eyre Basin that would allow unconventional gas fracking on the sensitive floodplains and river channels.

The Western Rivers Alliance, alongside Lock The Gate and the Environmental Defenders Office, last week called for a moratorium on approvals for new gas exploration and development while the COVID-19 crisis delays progress on delivering better protection for the Channel Country.

Western Rivers Alliance spokesperson Riley Rocco said community members have made repeated requests for the findings of the scientific expert panel to be released however the government declared the report “cabinet in confidence” and refused to discuss its findings or why it needed to be kept secret.

The Alliance said fracking on the Channel Country floodplains would be disastrous for nature and wildlife, as well posing a risk to the future of the organic beef grazing industry that relies on the floodplains.

However oil and gas lobby group APPEA says a recent CSIRO study finds hydraulic fracturing fears are unfounded.

APPEA Chief Executive Andrew McConville said the study conducted by the CSIRO’s Gas Industry Social and Environmental Research Alliance, found the use of hydraulic fracturing to extract coal-seam gas in Queensland has little to no impact on groundwater, waterways, soils or air quality.

“Hydraulic fracturing has been used safely in Australia for more than 60 years, and is part and parcel of the safe, sustainable development of our abundant natural gas resources,” Mr McConville said.

“While there some in the community who continue to make false and exaggerated claims about the environmental impacts of gas exploration and production, all the credible evidence confirms properly-conducted gas activities have negligible impacts.”

A Queensland government spokesperson said they were committed to working with traditional owners, stakeholders, environment groups and communities to achieve a balance between the long-term protection of the rivers and floodplains of the Lake Eyre Basin and the cultural, social and economic priorities of the region.

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