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What the frack is going on? Parliamentary commission to investigate

An official investigation into fracking was announced yesterday by the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, with a report due back by the end of the year.

An official investigation into fracking was announced yesterday by the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, with a report due back by the end of the year.

Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is an energy exploration method where rock is fractured using high powered chemicals and water. It is used when oil and gas are hard to access.

The controversial process is under moratorium in New South Wales, while in France it is banned outright.

In New Zealand, however, the process has long been used in the energy industry, with 41 exploration wells in Taranaki using fracking techniques between 2001 and 2011.

Reported environmental effects include air pollution, groundwater and soil contamination.

The Taranaki District Council stated that drill cuttings and muds, which may include residual ‘frack’ fluids, could be discharged to land and that there is no public resource consent for fracking.

Minister for energy and resources Phil Heatley believes everything, from the consenting process to field work, can be improved with the report , which he believes will "separate fact from fiction".

Green MP Gareth Hughes, however, is calling for a moratorium on fracking.

“In Taranaki, there’s been numerous consent breaches and water contamination so messages of safety don’t stand up to close scrutiny – that ’s why we need the Parliamentary Commisioner to look into it,” he said.


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