Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek has a responsibility to use her expanded water trigger powers to call in gas fracking proposals in the Northern Territory that would pollute artesian water sources, the Australian Conservation Foundation said.

The NT government has approved Tamboran Resources’ plan to undertake exploratory drilling and flow testing at up to 15 wells in the Beetaloo Basin, southeast of Darwin.

“The Albanese government did the right thing when it expanded the water trigger late last year to cover all forms of fracking,” said ACF’s CEO Kelly O’Shanassy.

“Now Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek should call in this project for a thorough assessment under Australia’s national environment law.”

Empire Energy’s Carpentaria gas project in the Beetaloo Basin is also before the NT government for a decision.

“These gas companies propose to drill through numerous groundwater sources to reach shale gas,” Ms O’Shanassy said.

“Water is life in the dry Northern Territory. We believe the Minister has a responsibility to call in these projects and assess their impact on water resources.

“In April the NT government struck a deal with Tamboran Resources to buy gas from the Beetaloo Basin. Now the Territory government has approved the project.

“As the purchaser and the approver, the Territory government has a clear conflict of interests. It’s time for the federal government to step in and make an impartial assessment.

“We urge Minister Plibersek to call in Tamboran’s Shenandoah South project and Empire’s Carpentaria project for assessment under the expanded water trigger.”

Traditional Owners have led a decades-long fight to protect water, Country and cultural heritage from fracking in the NT.

In December 2023 the environment movement warmly welcomed the expansion of the water trigger in the environment law to include consideration of likely significant impacts on water resources from gas fracking.

Fracking in the Beetaloo Basin is facilitated by government subsidies for a gas processing facility at Middle Arm in Darwin Harbour.

Header pic: Bette Devine

ACF Media Enquiries

Journalists with enquiries may contact Josh Meadows on 0439 342 992. For all other enquiries please call 1800 223 669 or email [email protected]