Cook government condemned for opening up proposed Nature Reserve and Martuwarra Fitzroy River in the Kimberley for oil and gas
The Cook government is opening up spectacular parts of the Kimberley to the oil and gas industry at a time when the science says we have to reduce carbon emissions. See petroleum release announcement here.
“We’re calling on the Cook government to withdraw this petroleum release and not put places like the spectacular Edgar Ranges and Martuwarra Fitzroy River at risk from the oil and gas industry.” Said Environs Kimberley Director of Strategy Martin Pritchard.
Edgar Ranges Photo: Environs Kimberley
“It’s like the Premier Roger Cook and Minister for Mines Bill Johnston don’t accept the science of climate change because we know that to have a safe climate, the International Energy Agency is saying we can’t open new oil and gas.”
The petroleum release areas cover the spectacular Edgar Ranges which have been proposed as a Nature Reserve by the WA government since 1991. The Edgar Ranges are of very high conservation value and culturally important.
According to the WA Government –
The Edgar Range is biologically and culturally extremely significant, it has a spectacular landscape and for decades has been recommended for conservation as a Class A Nature Reserve.
It is significant habitat for many mammal, insect and plant species and is known for Brush-tailed Rock Wallaby, Greater Bilby and Forrest’s Mouse, and is the only location for the endangered Edgar Range
Pandanus (Pandanus spiralis var. flammeus)21. It is where Torresian (sub-humid Kimberley) and desert species mix.
One hundred and twenty-one species of birds have been recorded there, including three of special significance to conservation – Princess Parrot, Peregrine Falcon and Major Mitchell’s Cockatoo.
Source: Department of Conservation and Land Management (1991) Nature Conservation Reserves in the Kimberley
Martuwarra Fiztroy River Photo: Damian Kelly
The Martuwarra Fitzroy River is National Heritage listed and is a Registered Aboriginal Heritage site.
“If the Cook government won’t withdraw this petroleum acreage release then the oil and gas industry must take a responsible approach and not bid for these areas.”
Broome based conservation group Environs Kimberley has condemned the latest gas-related announcement by the WA government which encourages the development of a large-scale gas fracking industry in the Kimberley’s Canning Basin for export.
Changes to the domestic gas reservation policy restore the ban on export of on-shore gas sourced from the Perth Basin, while lifting the export ban across the vast Canning Basin covering much of the globally outstanding environmental and cultural values of the Kimberley.
The government’s new policy states, “For the Canning Basin, these gas resources are not connected to the existing pipeline network and as such a normal application of the WA Domestic Gas Policy applies, which requires gas project developers to make available 15 per cent of exports for the domestic market.”
Previously, the export of gas from the Canning basin was banned – putting ongoing attempts to frack and export gas from the region under a cloud.
The change in policy which was enacted without any media statement or consultation with communities across the Kimberley who would be affected by the decision.
‘This is a bad decision that has been taken without consideration of the impacts of a gas export industry on the Kimberley. The removal of the export ban from the Canning Basin paves the way for a pipeline to the Pilbara from the Canning Basin which would open the gate to thousands of fracking wells across the Kimberley.’ said Environs Kimberley Director of Strategy Martin Pritchard.
“This is exactly what Kimberley communities have been fighting against. Only last week we saw thousands turn out to warn Premier Cook against supporting a fracking industry in the Canning Basin. Kimberley people know that such an industry would contaminate water, make communities sick, destroy globally significant environmental values and place the Kimberley’s tourism industry at risk,’
‘Woodside does not have enough gas to feed its giant Burrup Gas Hub expansion in the Pilbara and Premier Cook has just opened the gate for them to source this gas by fracking the Kimberley,’ Mr Pritchard said.
‘Woodside has failed to get gas processing facilities built before at James Price Point due to a national campaign against it. Any attempt to frack the Kimberley for export would damage their corporate reputation in a much more significant way.
Previously the WA Government banned fracking in the Southwest, leaving communities in the Kimberley vulnerable to this destructive industry. Once again we are seeing government decisions that sacrifice the communities and environment of the Kimberley for the sake of gas industry profits. One thing can be sure, Kimberley communities will not stand for this.
The WA Government needs to look at the serious impacts of climate change globally and we’re calling on Premier Roger Cook to ban fracking and gas industrialisation in the world famous Kimberley landscapes.’
‘This policy change shows that the Cook government is failing to roll out renewables and is basing future energy needs on gas.’
The world famous Kimberley region of Western Australia is under threat from oil and gas fracking. Three thousand people gathered in Broome and called on the new Premier of Western Australia Roger Cook to ban the industry.
The Kimberley has the largest most intact tropical savanna and the oldest living culture in the world. The $620 million tourism industry is based on spectacular unspoilt landscapes, stunning beaches and coastlines and the vibrant Aboriginal cultural experiences.
Oil and gas companies have plans to frack the region and have compared it to places in the US for its resources. Those places in the US have now been transformed by tens of thousands of oil and gas fracking wells, pockmarked landscapes and polluted air and water. Kimberley people and groups are celebrating more than 10 years of successful campaigns to protect the region from fracking; however, fracking companies have proposals that could leave the Kimberley with a landscape like those in the US. Now, a pipeline is being planned, to carry the fracked oil and gas to the Pilbara. This new threat comes as Western Australia’s new Premier Roger Cook begins his tenure.
Musicians from across the country performed free of charge at Cable Beach on Saturday August 12 include rising star Bojesse Pigram, Pilbara Country singer Bradley Hall, Kankawa Nagarra Knight, Kimberley Blues Gospel singer who performs around the world with Hugh Jackman, highly celebrated, ARIA-nominated, award-winning Indigenous singer and songwriter Emma Donovan and WA’s award winning artist John Butler fresh off a European tour.
Emma Donovan on stage at the Frack Free Kimberley Concert 2023
They all sang with one voice calling on Western Australian Premier Roger Cook to protect the world famous region from fracking.
John Butler said -
“I’ve travelled all around the world and the Kimberley is in a league of its own. Big Country with intact nature and vibrant, ancient culture.
I’ve also travelled through the American fracking fields and seen the industrialisation that’s wrecked the environment and communities. The last thing I want to see is the Kimberley industrialised by oil and gas fracking.
The Premier Roger Cook can protect the Kimberley from this nightmare scenario. That’s why I’m involved and when the call for help came from Traditional Owners and the community I gladly joined in. This concert is a launch pad and from here we’ll build the momentum for a ban on fracking the Kimberley.”
Martin Pritchard from Environs Kimberley said -
“The community is united against fracking one of the most remarkable unspoilt regions of the world, the new Premier needs to listen and take action to protect the Kimberley.'
Traditional Owners, national group Lock the Gate also addressed the crowd and Doctors for the Environment Australia were also at the event calling for a Frack Free Kimberley.
Photos: Damian Kelly
THE KIMBERLEY – ONE OF THE WORLD’S LAST NATURAL REGIONS
The Kimberley region is of global importance. The ecological and scientific values of one of the least spoiled and most extensive naturally functioning suite of ecosystems left on the planet are comparable only with areas such as the Amazon and the Antarctic. Its seas, myriad islands, coral reefs, mangroves, rainforests, savanna woodlands and rivers are home to an astonishing variety of marine and terrestrial wildlife.
Kimberley landscape - globally important Photo: Damian Kelly
The Indigenous cultural values of the Kimberley are outstanding; the Traditional Owners’ ancient connections to their country are unbroken to the present day. The region has a $500 million tourism industry based on its natural and cultural values.
GLOBALLY SIGNIFICANT VALUES UNDER THREAT FROM FRACKING
Despite its National Heritage-listed values, wetlands of international significance and nationally listed threatened species, the Kimberley is under threat from oil and gas companies wanting to open up the region to fracking.
If fracking got a foothold, the landscape would be changed forever, and this highly polluting industry would be a blight across the region, threatening its clean air, water, and reputation as a world-class tourism destination.
Texan-based fracking company Black Mountain Energy is aggressively pushing to establish gasfields across the region. It has applied to the Environmental Protection Authority to drill and frack 20 oil and gas wells in the heart of the Kimberley, 60km from Fitzroy Crossing.
EMISSIONS DOUBLE PARIS AGREEMENT CARBON BUDGET
Black Mountain has also been given a conditional green light by the McGowan Government to send gas overseas or interstate. Despite knowing that the climate crisis is escalating and the world needs to cut carbon emissions drastically, Premier McGowan is allowing plans to open up a new global-scale fracking gasfield to roll on.
Meanwhile, the International Energy Agency has said that no new fossil fuel basins can be opened up if we are to have a safe climate.
The McGowan Government’s approval and support for Woodside’s Scarborough project will lead to massive carbon emissions, but these will pale in comparison to the emissions that would come from the Canning Basin (see comparison in ‘Gas reserves North West Western Australia’ below’).
A report by Climate Analytics estimates the emissions from fracking the Canning Basin to be more than double the whole of Australia’s allowable CO2e emissions under the Paris Agreement.
KIMBERLEY PIPELINE FOR FRACKED GAS
The State Development Minister (previously Minister for Health) Roger Cook, told Parliament in June that the Federal National Party wanted to drag Australia back to the “dark ages of coal, climate change denial and taking WA’s economic future backwards”, and that the state government had a “green energy vision for WA.”. A few months later he granted Black Mountain Energy a conditional exemption from the domestic gas policy, which was developed to reserve gas for Western Australia’s future use.
Black Mountain would need to build a 1,100km pipeline from the Kimberley to the Pilbara at an approximate cost of $1.2 to $1.5 billion. Other petroleum companies with interest in the Kimberley (Origin Energy, Buru Energy, Rey Resources, Goshawk Oil and Gas and Theia Energy) would all be likely to follow suit, seek an export exemption and join the pipeline network.
Thousands of wells would have to be drilled and fracked to pay for a pipeline of this cost and scale. The Kimberley’s world renowned landscape would be turned into an industrial gasfield, like the ones that blight North America.
“Bringing North American Expertise to the Australian Shale Revolution” – Black Mountain Energy.
Is this what Australians want the Kimberley to look like?
SAVE THE KIMBERLEY FROM A FRACKING NIGHTMARE – LET’S STOP THE PIPELINE
The vast majority of Broome and Kimberley people, including Traditional Owners, are opposed to this toxic industry getting a foothold in the region. Premier Mark McGowan and State Development Minister Roger Cook need to hear from thousands of West Australians and people across the continent that the Kimberley must be protected from industrialisation, and that opening up a new fossil fuel basin for fracking will risk a climate-change catastrophe.
Broome people call to - 'Stop the Kimberley fracking pipeline' Photo: Damian Kelly
Email Premier McGowan – [email protected]
Email Minister Cook – [email protected]
Send a strong message calling on your local Member of Parliament and relevant Ministers to stop fracking the Kimberley by going to this link.
If you’d like to donate to the campaign to save the Kimberley from fracking, you can make a tax-deductible donation here
Texas-based frackers Black Mountain Oil and Gas subsidiary Bennett Resources are pushing to industrialise the heart of the Kimberley – here’s an easy way to tell the EPA that fracking should be banned and what they should include in their assessment of the proposal
The company plans to frack 20 wells up to 50 times, using 40 million litres of water per well, and a cocktail of chemicals. They want to drill to a depth of between 2km–4km below the ground. They would bulldoze 109 hectares of native vegetation and bushland to create access tracks, build accommodation camps and fracking operation sites, including toxic wastewater storage ponds and flaring pits. The fracking is proposed over seven years, but if they get a foothold they could be fracking thousands of wells for decades to come.
It’s important that as many people as possible send a submission to the EPA so they hear loud and clear the depth of opposition to fracking the Kimberley.
While the current plan is to drill and frack 20 wells, this is just the beginning. Black Mountain have said they want to produce 900 terajoules of gas. To do this would require thousands of wells on land surrounding Mount Hardman and Mount Wynne creeks, which flow into the Fitzroy River.
Please take action by sending a submission to the EPA with your own message or our pre-filled message.
The West-East pipeline push revealed by the leaked report from the manufacturing taskforce of the National COVID Coordination Commission (NCCC) would be a disaster for efforts to combat climate change according to Lock the Gate Alliance and conservation group Environs Kimberley.
It would also be a huge risk to the regions water and tropical savannah – the largest, most intact in the world.
The pipeline could rip apart the Kimberley’s Canning Basin to fracking for shale and tight gas with thousands of wells risking pollution on an industrial scale at the renowned tourism region known for its rich Aboriginal culture and stunning natural landscapes.
Recent comments in the media supporting the pipeline have been labelled as “reckless for the climate and Kimberley water” by the groups.
“The amount of carbon dioxide that would be released if you fracked the Kimberley would be significant on a global scale and come at a huge cost to future generations,” said Lock the Gate National Coordinator Naomi Hogan.
“It would blow apart our Paris Agreement commitments twice over. That’s not just a disaster for the climate, it’s a huge risk in terms of future carbon pollution costs, and the financial burden to taxpayers,” said Ms Hogan.
Environs Kimberley Director Martin Pritchard said “We’re calling on the McGowan Government to reject this pipeline because it would not only lock in carbon pollution for decades, but also open up the Kimberley to fracking.
“Three wells have been test fracked in the Kimberley since 2010 and already we’ve had radioactive wastewater discharge, two gas leaks that highlighted a failure of regulation, and wastewater ponds overflowing in the wet season – it would be an unmitigated disaster to have thousands of wells across the landscape.
“The community here and particularly Aboriginal groups have rejected fracking in the Kimberley for years and will continue to do so. We only recently had more than 7,000 people send in submissions calling for protection from fracking in the Kimberley.”
Ms Hogan said, “We call on Prime Minister Morrison to reject the pipeline and instead invest in clean energy which is proven to provide long term jobs without pollution.”
Sign the petition to ban fracking in the Kimberley here
LTG media contact - 0447355565