Video | Agriculture | Confidence | Economy | Energy | Employment | Finance | Media | Property | RBNZ | Science | SOEs | Tax | Technology | Telecoms | Tourism | Transport | Search

 


Government issues fracking guidelines before watchdog report

Government issues fracking guidelines ahead of parliamentary watchdog’s report

March 27 (BusinessDesk) – The government has issued what it says are best practice guidelines for undertaking hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, including how to undertake so-called “land farming” and warning that fracking fluids can migrate into drinking water and need to be controlled.

Environment Minister Amy Adams issued the guidelines today, ahead of the expected release around Easter of the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment’s final report on fracking.

The PCE’s preliminary report in late 2012 found fracking was probably safe as long as it was well-regulated, but that more study was required before issuing a final position. The PCE, Jan Wright, has also raised broader concerns that the growing use of fracking will contribute to global climate change.

Her final report was due last year, but has been delayed while further evidence is assessed.

The guidelines published today make clear that “applications for water and discharge activities for these activities will need to specifically address whether registered drinking water sources are located downstream, to what extent the activities will affect these supplies, and ways to ensure effects are avoided, remedied or mitigated.”

The guidelines note also that it’s possible that “the migration of fracturing fluid through pathways could affect water supplies upstream of the discharge point, depending on the nature of the underlying geology.”

While this situation did not trigger the 2008 National Environment Standard for Sources of Human Drinking Water on its own, “the risk of this occurring needs to be assessed in an application for hydraulic fracturing, as it may produce adverse effects on upstream water quality.”

The guidelines also cover land farming, the practice of spreading drilling waste onto land to “allow for natural bio-remediation as various soil processes transform and assimilate the waste.”

The practice has become controversial since discovery of low compliance with land farming regulations on at least one Taranaki land farm, where cattle were found grazing on pasture where drilling waste had not been fully treated.

The guidelines also make clear that flow-back fluids from the fracking process should not be spread on agricultural land.

“The disposal of return fluid from hydraulic fracturing operations (including formation fluid) using land-based disposal is not endorsed by these guidelines,” the document, published on the Ministry for the Environment website. “Disposal of return fluids is considered better suited to deep well injection or disposal at an industrial waste facility.”

Land farming was best suited to light, sandy soils in windswept areas, because of its capacity to reduce erosion.

“The environmental risks of onshore petroleum development, including hydraulic fracturing can be effectively managed if best practice is followed,” said Adams in a statement. “These guidelines provide clear direction so that hydraulic fracturing is carried out in a robust, controlled and well regulated manner.”

The guidelines come as local government agencies in areas unfamiliar with the oil and gas industry, such as Hawke’s Bay and Gisborne, begin to see onshore oil and gas exploration.

“The guidelines clarify the responsibilities of councils from initial investigation and planning to consenting, and will support councils so that the environmental effects of hydraulic fracturing are managed appropriately across the country,” said Adams.

(BusinessDesk)

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines

 

Must Sell 20 Petrol Stations: Z Cleared To Buy Caltex Assets

Z Energy is allowed to buy the Caltex and Challenge! petrol station chains but must sell 19 of its retail sites and one truck-stop, the Commerce Commission has ruled in a split decision that acknowledges possible retail price coordination between fuel retailers occurs in some regions. More>>

ALSO:

Huntly: Genesis Extends Life Of Coal-Fuelled Power Station To 2022

Genesis Energy will keep its two coal and gas-fired units at Huntly Power Station operating until 2022, having previously said they'd be closed by 2018, after wringing a high price from other electricity generators who wanted to keep them as back-up. More>>

ALSO:

Dammed If You Do: Ruataniwha Irrigation Scheme Hits Farmer Uptake Targets

Enough Hawke's Bay farmers have signed up for water from the proposed Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme for it to go ahead as long as a cornerstone institutional capital investor can be found to back it, its regional council promoter announced. More>>

ALSO:

Reserve Bank: OCR Stays At 2.25%

Reserve Bank governor Graeme Wheeler kept the official cash rate at 2.25 percent, in a decision traders had said could go either way, while predicting inflation will pick up as the slump in oil prices washes out of the data and capacity pressures start to build in the economy. More>>

ALSO:

Export Values Down: NZ Posts Biggest Annual Trade Deficit In 7 Years

New Zealand has recorded its biggest annual trade deficit since April 2009, reflecting weaker prices of agricultural commodities such as dairy products, beef and lamb, and increased imports of vehicles and machinery. More>>

ALSO:

Currency Events: NZ's New $5 Note Wins International Banknote Award

New Zealand’s new Brighter Money $5 note has been named Banknote of the Year in a prestigious international competition. The $5 note was awarded the IBNS Banknote of the Year title at the International Bank Note Society’s annual meeting. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Business
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news