Australian state Victoria is taking an unprecedented step after they announced this week that they would protect farmers by banning “onshore unconventional gas,” including fracking. Outcry from local farmers helped push the government to make the historical ban. Victoria is the first Australian state to ban such gas exploration and development.
A 2015 Parliamentary Inquiry into Onshore Unconventional Gas in Victoria obtained 1,600 submissions. They found most respondents were against fracking, fearing such practices endangered the agriculture sector in Victoria, public health, and the environment. Dairy farmer Julie Boulton told The Guardian, “It has been so heart-wrenching at times, when we thought the drill rigs were coming and there was nothing we could do. But we pulled together as a community and decided to fight this threat to our farmland, water, and health.”
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190,000 people work in the Victorian agriculture sector. While the gas industry had claimed there would be economic benefits to fracking, research from think tank The Australia Institute appeared to indicate otherwise. They found that when ten gas jobs were created, 18 jobs were lost in agriculture. Many farmers felt fracking would threaten Victoria’s reputation for “clean, green” food.
The Australia Institute Principal Adviser Mark Ogge said any benefits have nearly all gone to “overseas owners of global oil and gas companies.” He said the ban is “sound economic and energy policy.”
A “permanent legislative ban” will be introduced later in 2016 to Parliament, but a “current moratorium” will ensure unconventional gas development and exploration doesn’t occur for now. The ban includes “exploration and development” of Victoria unconventional gas, from fracking to coal seam gas. The ban does not cover offshore gas exploration. There are also exemptions for “carbon storage research” and gas storage.
Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews said in a statement, “Victorians have made it clear that they don’t support fracking and that the health and environmental risks involved outweigh any potential benefits.”
Via The Guardian
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