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Protect water!

Fracking corporations are pushing to fast-track their disastrous production licences as soon as next month.1

If the Northern Territory Government were to kneel to the pressure, they would be breaking their promise and commitment to the 2018 Fracking Inquiry – devastating communities' drinking water.

Will you sign the petition demanding protections for water?
Traditional owners holding dont frack the nt sign
The Northern Territory Government was elected on a strong anti-fracking platform across the Northern Territory, with a moratorium on fracking.

Then, back in 2017, Traditional Owners gave evidence in the Scientific Inquiry into Hydraulic Fracturing in the Northern Territory, known as the Pepper Inquiry. It resulted in 135 recommendations to mitigate the environmental, social, cultural and economic risks associated with fracking.

The Government then reneged on their promise, giving the green light to devastating new fracking fields on the condition that all 135 recommendations would be implemented.

On a regular basis, an audit of how the Northern Territory Government and fracking corporations are tracking against these recommendations is conducted. At it's last check, thirty five recommendations remained untouched.

We've even spoken to experts who say one of the biggest outstanding concerns is a lack of protections for water.

These aren't just words in a 500-page report. They are crucial recommendations with real world implications for communities and their drinking water.

The recommendations must be upheld by the Northern Territory Government, including Chief Minister Natasha Fyles, and Environment Minister Lauren Moss. Will you sign the petition?
These are the main recommendations that the fracking industry and Northern Territory Government still do not have answers for.

Water Allocation Plans have not been approved to allow the gas industry to take the water they need without damaging Territory water resources (Rec 7.7). Important water plans have not been signed off and the draft plan for a vast area that includes the Beetaloo Basin has been described as "regressive" by 18 academic water experts from across Australia.3

The Federal Government has not yet enacted a promised 'water trigger' for onshore fracking in federal environment legislation (Rec 7.3). This would see the water trigger under the Federal Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 extended to shale gas. The water trigger would require a scientific assessment of the risks to the Territory's water resources in light of the massive amounts of water needed by the fracking industry. The amendments are not due to be tabled until 'late 2023'.

Important cultural, water and environmental 'baseline' studies have not been properly conducted (Rec 15.1). The requirement that a strategic regional environmental and baseline assessments (SREBA), including a comprehensive groundwater model, be undertaken prior to the granting of production approvals is critical, particularly to address the potential for cumulative impacts on water and the natural environment across broad regions. These studies, which include examining cultural impacts on Aboriginal communities, lack integrity, having been severely compromised by the short timeframe and the limitations COVID created, frustrating consultations and site visits.

Aboriginal people are not being given adequate information or being treated more fairly by the fracking industry. Aboriginal people are not receiving the promised clear, accurate information about the scale and impacts of fracking on their country (Rec 11.6).4 Interpreters are not always present to explain complex scientific subject matter (Rec 11.5). Further, land councils and APPEA have refused to make public petroleum exploration agreements, in whole or in part (Rec 11.7), so there's no proper scrutiny of whether the deals being negotiated by gas corporations with impacted Aboriginal communities are adequate or just.

No solution to the requirement to offset emissions (Rec 9.8). This requires the Northern Territory Government to obtain the Federal Government's support to ensure there is no net increase to Australia's emissions from onshore gas development. This is critical to the Federal Government upholding its commitments under the Paris Agreement. A Dec 2022 report from Dr David Ritchie,5 who is tasked with reporting on implementation of Pepper Inquiry recommendations, said the details on how this will be done are "still being worked out". Over 60 leading scientists and experts have called on the Northern Territory Government to honour its commitment.6 There is considerable doubt that it's even possible to offset these emissions, with concerns about the integrity of the offsets regime. A February 2023 report by a gas industry-funded research arm of the CSIRO, GISERA, which claims emissions can be offset and is being relied upon by the Northern Territory Government has been widely criticised by experts, labelling it as 'wildly unrealistic'.7 APPEA and companies such as Santos claim carbon capture and storage (CCS) is the solution, despite strong evidence to the contrary. The emissions from fracking the Territory will drive more dangerous floods, droughts and extreme temperatures in the Territory and Australia.

Until these crucial recommendations are met, all fracking in the Northern Territory must be halted. Sign the petition today!
[1] Beetaloo gas fracking could start soon, despite NT government delay in implementing Pepper inquiry recommendations, ABC News, 23 January 2023.
[2] The Scientific Inquiry into Hydraulic Fracturing in the Northern Territory, Justice Rachel Pepper, 27 March 2018.
[3] University academics send joint letter to NT Chief Minister about 'poor' water planning regime, ABC News, 25 November 2022.
[4] Facts take a backseat in CSIRO fracking fact sheets partly funded by the gas industry, The Guardian, 13 October 2022.
[5] Eleventh Hydraulic Fracturing Implementation progress update, Northern Territory Government, 6 December 2022.
[6] Over 60 scientists & experts call on NT Chief Minister Gunner to honour commitment to net-zero fracking emissions, The Australia Instutute, 23 September 2021.
[7] CSIRO under fire over 'nonsense' report on fracking offsets for Beetaloo Basin greenhouse gas emissions, ABC News, 16 February 2023.


To the Northern Territory Government:

All recommendations of the 2018 Fracking Inquiry must be implemented in full – including key protections for water.

Do not grant production licences allowing fracking corporations to destroy water in the Beetaloo Basin!

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