Tonight [Thursday 27th October] community members and environmentalists will attend the Department of Mines and Petroleum’s Golden Gecko Awards for Environmental Excellence, to present the DMP with an “Oily Spoon Award” for attempting to greenwash environmentally destructive industries, earning it the moniker “Department for Misleading the Public”.
West Australians are increasingly anxious about threats posed by unconventional gas and uranium mining, and are not fooled by the DMP’s attempts to claim some environmental authority through the farcical Golden Gecko Awards. The DMP has acted as an advocate for these industries - not as an environmental regulator, a role that is increasingly being deferred from the EPA to the DMP.
Frack Free Future Campaigner Jules Kirby said communities had declared emphatic opposition to the unconventional gas industry.
“All across WA, communities are voicing their opposition to unconventional gas and fracking. Gas companies looking to avoid a public relations disaster should respect their wishes and stay away.
“People are waking up to the real risk these industries pose to WA’s scarce water supplies, and the terrible impact it would have on sustainable industries like tourism and farming.
“The DMP and those attending the Golden Gecko Awards should listen to West Australians, and drop plans to industrialise our communities and farming land with unconventional gas and fracking infrastructure.
“The Department of Mines and Petroleum is fast earning itself a new monika - the Department for Misleading the Public.”
One of the nominees for the DMP’s Golden Gecko Awards is Buru Energy. Buru has bulldozed bilby habitat, likely trapping and killing these vulnerable animals underground as they are unable to burrow upwards. Perversely Buru is up for an award for its association with a study of the impact of industrial disturbance on bilbies.
Another nominee for the award is Vimy Resources, the company behind plans to mine uranium at Mulga Rock in the Yellow Sandplain Priority Ecological Community north east of the Queen Victoria Springs A Class Nature Reserve.
This project puts at risk a number of threatened and endangered species such as the Sandhill Dunnart and the Marsupial Mole, through habitat loss and the introduction of invasive species.
Nuclear Free Campaigner Mia Pepper said, “That the DMP has shortlisted uranium junior Vimy Resources for an ‘Environmental Excellence Award’ for a project that threatens a number of rare and endangered species in a Priority Ecological Community that is under review by the Appeals Convenor is absurd. The project does not have final approval nor does it have a social license, while the company has no credibility and no proven experience.”
Other reasons cited by Frack Free Future for the DMP’s award of an Oily Spoon include:
● Its letter to the people of the South West containing a number of false and misleading statements, including
○ claiming fracking has happened in WA for 60 years without incident. In fact fracking as understood by the term today has only been practised for less than 20 years in total, having been invented in Texas in late ‘90s, and first practised in WA in 2005.
○ Implying landholders have the right to refuse access to unconventional gas companies when in fact they have no such right.
○ For more information see http://www.frackfreefuture.org.au/response_dmp_open_letter_southwest
● Failing to ensure environmental impact assessments are conducted on and around unconventional gas and fracking sites, licensing gas exploration activity in Priority 1 water catchment areas and generally failing to apply and enforce regulations.
○ Fore more information see http://www.frackfreefuture.org.au/fracking_regs
● Falsely accusing a community representative of vandalising a Buru fracking well found to be leaking massive volumes of explosive methane gas in the Kimberley, without any evidence to support the accusation.
○ The court subsequently acquitted the accused of vandalism but the Department has yet to retract the accusation. For more information see http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-01-29/activist-guilty-of-trespass-after-filming-fracking-gas-lea k/7126228
Frack Free Future is a collection of individuals, communities, farmers, doctors, environmentalists, business and civil society groups concerned at the risks fracking poses to Western Australia’s water sources, climate, and sustainable industries like farming and tourism. Together we’re fighting for a Frack Free Future for WA. For more information visit www.frackfreefuture.org.au or email firstname.lastname@example.org.