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Call for fracking moratorium in wake of report

Call for fracking moratorium in wake of report

Wellington, 4 June 2014 – Independent conservation organisation Forest & Bird is calling for a moratorium following the release of a new report that makes it clear that oil and gas fracking in New Zealand could come at far too high a cost to our environment - including our waterways and the climate - and that national and local government regulations are woefully inadequate.

The Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment’s report on fracking was released at 1pm today.

“We know we can only burn a third of the world’s proven reserves of fossil fuels if we are to keep the global average temperature rise to two degrees,” says Forest & Bird Advocacy Manager Kevin Hackwell.

“That reality cannot be ignored. It is irresponsible for the government to be promoting the extraction of more fossil fuels at the risk to our environment and our existing rural economy.

“The report also leaves no doubt that the potential environmental and public health impacts of fracking in New Zealand are not adequately regulated.

“Most New Zealanders will be appalled to discover that many councils treat an oil and gas well as they do a simple water well, not requiring a resource consent for either,” Kevin Hackwell says.

“It’s patently obvious the two are not the same. Water wells are not likely to pollute an aquifer, produce hazardous wastewater, or release toxic air pollution.

“The PCE is recommending that a National Policy Statement be created for onshore oil and gas exploration and production.

“The situation is clear; there needs to be a moratorium on new oil and gas exploration, at the very least until adequate national regulations exist,” Kevin Hackwell says.

“The content of this report calls into serious question the government’s sale of the rights to frack across millions of hectares of the conservation estate, and on private land, without proper environmental safeguards.

“Companies like Tag Oil say they are looking to frack for oil, not gas, which would be flared off as a waste product.

“The situation in New Zealand means the expansion of fracking on the East Coast is likely to increase our greenhouse gas emissions, and could put agriculture at risk through the contamination of aquifers and groundwater,” Kevin Hackwell says.

“The fracking industry is hoping to dot landscapes around Gisborne, across the Hawke’s Bay and Wairarapa with a large number of wells. In areas with similar geology in the United States, these average one for every square kilometre of land.

“Fracking is an issue that all New Zealanders – including both conservationists and farmers – should be very wary of,” Kevin Hackwell says.

Forest & Bird is New Zealand’s largest independent conservation organisation, with 50 branches nationwide. It protects our native plants, animals and wild places, on land and in our oceans.

ENDS

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