August 30 2016
Doctors have applauded the Andrews government for prioritising the health of Victorians by placing a permanent ban on the development of onshore unconventional gas in Victoria.
Doctors for the Environment Australia has emphasised the great uncertainty round the public health risks of unconventional gas activities.
Says spokesperson Dr Liz Bashford, “Victoria is now leading other states in not bowing to industry pressure and exploiting a resource without adequate knowledge of its safety.”
However DEA is disappointed the Government has left open the possibility of conventional gas after the election.
“The Andrews government has made a commitment to reducing carbon emissions and to honour this target, the moratorium on onshore conventional gas needs to be converted to a permanent ban,” says Dr Bashford.
Though often quoted as a “clean” alternative to coal, natural gas is methane – a powerful greenhouse gas, 35 times more potent than CO2. Leakages from well heads, casing failures and transport produce enough fugitive emissions to outweigh most benefit over coal.
In Australia and overseas there are increasing numbers of scientific reports of environmental pollution by harmful chemicals used in the drilling and fracking processes.
Two recent studies from the US show that there is an increased chance of low birth weight infants (in a study of 8000 mothers), and an increase in asthma attacks in a study of 35,000 people living near gasfields.
“The government has listened to experts from many fields, as well as the farmers and landholders, and decided the potential risks of the unconventional gas industry are not worth the benefits.
“We are heartened by the government’s promise to undertake extensive scientific and environmental studies on conventional gas before the moratorium ends in 2020.”
Dr Liz Bashford, 0417 754 751