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Fracking in the Beetaloo: Doctors urge PM to extend water trigger by Christmas

Doctors For the Environment Australia is calling on the federal government to deliver a promise it made last year to expand the water trigger in the nation’s nature laws before Parliament breaks for Christmas.

In a letter to Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and the Minister for Environment and Water, Tanya Plibersek,  DEA’s Executive Director Dr Kate Wylie who is also a GP says, “there is no time to delay” in closing a loophole which enables gas interests to frack the Northern Territory’s Beetaloo Basin. 

“Our understanding is that the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (EPBC) is scheduled to be reviewed in 2024, which will be too late for the Beetaloo Basin and those that live there.”

Allowing Beetaloo to be fracked will cause significant health harms. The water will be contaminated by poisonous toxins including heavy metals, volatile organic compounds and many others, with this pollution impacting on the health of local populations. 

“Shale gas fracking is highly water intensive and to allow it in an area of pre-existing water insecurity, like the Beetaloo Basin is foolhardy and irresponsible,” says Dr Wylie. 

“Further depleted water supply will endanger local people’s health and  increase the risk of renal failure, heat related illness, and death from thirst. It will also impact fauna, threatening their survival and undermining local biodiversity. 

“The First Nations communities of the Beetaloo Basin, do not want their country and water poisoned by fracking, and Labor amending the Act now would show respect for local people and their very real concerns.  

“Fracking will also affect all of us, and for this alone, any avenue to avert this project should be taken seriously.

“Beetaloo, if fully developed, will have enough energy to power Australia for 200 years and will cause up to 117 million tonnes of Co2eq annually

“More emissions would fuel yet more extreme weather events with devastating health impacts on Australians who have battled mega bushfires and bushfire smoke, floods, and heatwaves, as well as place more pressure on our health services such as GPs and hospitals. 

“Our coal and gas exports are also responsible for the death, sickness, and misery of tens of thousands of people across the globe who too are impacted by devastating wild weather, and air pollution from the burning of coal and gas.”

Under Australia’s current environment laws only coal seam gas projects are required to be assessed and approved, while hydraulic fracturing to extract shale and tight gas are exempt. 

Read DEA’s letter to Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Minister for the Environment and Water, Tanya Plibersek (PDF)

For media interviews, contact DEA’s Media and Communications Lead Carmela Ferraro on 0410 703 074

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