The Australian Parliamentary inquiry may be related to the French Parliamentary Report No. 3517 recorded at the Presidency of the National Assembly 8 April 2011 (Act No. 2011-835 of 13 July 2011 prohibiting the exploration and the exploitation of liquid and gaseous mines hyrocarbures by hydraulic fracturing, Act published in Official News No 162 of 14 July 2011). While the French report lists the known risks (checked afterwards in the period 2011- 2005, four years), the Australian report obscures these same risks by an optimism not based on the facts and on scientific studies.
The French report imposed a moratorium on shale gas, promulgated the scientifically-controlled geological prospection for unconventional hydrocarbons and banned the hydraulic fracturing process, the only process compatible today with financial investments, while waiting for new technologies that are less dangerous for the environment (sic). From the outset, this law has been challenged by environmental organizations and citizen action groups, and will not be enough to contain the insistence of the multinationals: moreover, on January 27th, 2016, the court in CERGY reattributed to TOTAL its “Montélimar” licence, which had been abrogated in 2011.
The key question that the Australian parliamentarians arise appears « how to be socially acceptable to shale gas while minimizing problems. » The French report ask the key question: « how to solve the problems posed by shale gas BEFORE you operate and create irreparable damage to the environment and to people, land, plants and animals, and air? «
In France, if, thanks to the pressure brought to bear on them by citizen action groups, those in power could not avoid voting in the 13th July, 2011 law, banning hydraulic fracturing, the oil and gas lobby has now taken the initiative, setting a big, fallacious, public relations exercice in motion to explain that natural gas is the only “energy for the transition”(sic).This technology would solve all the problems posed by the exploration and exploitation of unconventional hydrocarbons: no fewer than 6 pro-gas sites have been set up in Europe ( five of which are in France ) and they feed the mainstream media, going so far as to sponsor the COP 21, and the fallacious arguments that they give to the general public have the same aim: social acceptability.
So one can see clearly that the lobby has no intention of giving up its income, and is using universal, fallacious tricks: the technological mirage, a highly-exaggerated number of jobs created, improbable income …. whilst downplaying the irreversible damage to the environment, to humans, to our water, our land and our air.
The most striking example in the Australian report is the insistence on communicating with the public, whilst emptying the communication of any scientific and factual content that would enable the public to be fully informed. For example, it perfectly describes the importance, in the US of the www.fracfocus.org site, which provides information about the wells taken into account in the legislation of 23 states in the US. But it denies this level of information to Australians, and draws from it no application to Australia: it’s not included in « results » or « recommendations ». The decision has been made to keep this information private and secret, the information being dealt with by the technocrats in the different ministries, which are known to be isolated from one another. (see ISOCARP, IMPP 2012 « silo logic »- logique de silo…
The techniques are declared « so reliable » it is possible to reduce standards of protection around the wells. This statement is without foundation, when we know that the water in the US is recognized polluted to 43%, and already more than 40 000 people have reported serious health problems due to shale gas. All cases are inventoried at the following address:
The report conceals the health surveys done by health institutions as Australian as USA, Canada, France (André Picot, 2011), or the United States. Over 450 scientific studies have shown the health risks including the following entry points:
- http://www.nap.edu/catalog/18376/health-impact-assessment-of-shale-gas-extraction- workshop-summary
- http://www.medact.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/medact_fracking- report_WEB3.pdf
This document (in English) revised in January 2015 Recency over 100 peer-reviewed scientific studies from 2009 to 2014, in which over 90% show negative impacts on health.
Above, we discussed the health aspect. Regarding water, the US EPA describes, in its latest, very official report on the impact of hydraulic fracturing on water, published in June 2015, six processes by which shale gas pollutes water. These six processes are inevitable. Leaks, still considered non-existent or negligible by the lobby, are acknowledged and estimated at more than 5% in all facilities (the average which is beginning to be acknowledged is 9%, which makes the gas more polluting than coal). It is recognized that 90% of the gas remains underground, but will slowly migrate upwards to the surface, and about 50% of this gas will rise in the following 20 years, reaching 100% in several decades. The EPA, obliged to do so by many serious independent studies, describes very precisely this process of upward migration, with the following educational schemes:
Figure 25 a to 25 f : Source : EPA (United States Environmental Protection Agency), Assessment of the Potential Impacts of Hydraulic Fracturing for Oil and Gas on Drinking Water Ressources, June 2015, Online at www.epa.gov/hfstudy.
In conclusion, the Australian report is written to reassure the population and allow the exploration and exploitation to continue in opposition to scientifically proven facts. The notion of « social license » is created for a social acceptatibilité without acknowledging the depth of information regarding the very high risk to water, air, human, animal and plant and soil. Furthermore these risks can propose a deregulation that is in effect contrary to the laws and regulation that are already in place to protect the health and wellbeing of the community and the environment they live in.
The COP21 has clearly shown that in order to reach the goal of less than 2 ° increase in world temperature by the year 2100, the world must transition to renewable energy and the remaining deposits of fossil energy must now remain in the ground.