The Uniting Church in Australia, Synod of Western Australia calls on the Government of Western Australia to place a moratorium on all unconventional gas exploration and extraction activities in WA and to move towards renewable energy and away from fossil fuels.
The hydraulic fracturing (fracking) process uses large volumes of toxic chemicals at high pressure to extract gas and is known to have contaminated groundwater aquifers. It also produces significant greenhouse gas emissions, in both the extraction process and post-production usage, whilst impacting natural landscapes and ecosystems, as well as agricultural productivity.
Vast areas of Western Australia, including some areas of great conservation and environmental significance in the South West, Ningaloo Coast, Kwonghan Heathland, and Kimberley, have been granted as petroleum exploration leases, for the purpose of exploration of shale and tight gas development.
Farmers and private land owners, including traditional owners, have limited legal rights under the Act, as the Minister for Mines and Petroleum may legally grant exploration, retention and development on ‘private land.’ Landowners are not required to be notified or consulted, and have no rights to object to the exploration or development on their own land.
The new leader of the Uniting Church in Australia, Western Australia, Moderator, Rev Steve Francis said that the Church is concerned about fracking for a number of reasons.
“There are ongoing concerns among Aboriginal communities about the impacts of gas fracking, as well as amongst agricultural landholders,” said Rev Francis
“Research and experience points to long term, low-level exposure to many of the chemicals involved in the process are linked with a range of diseases, including cancers and diseases which can affect the growth and development of children.
“Whilst gas is often touted as a ‘clean fuel’, it remains a significant source of carbon emissions from which we should be moving away,” Steve said.
Uniting Church members from around Western Australia have come together this weekend, Saturday 13 to Sunday 14 September, to discuss issues of importance in the life of the Uniting Church in Australia, Synod of Western Australia, and the wider community at the 38th annual Synod and the 9th Annual General Meeting of the Presbytery of Western Australia.