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Fracking found to be safe - Commissioner

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New Zealand News | Tuesday November 27 2012 14:02

Fracking found to be safe - Commissioner

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More regulation of fracking is looking a real possibility.

It follows the release of a report today by the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment.

It's found fracking can be done safely if best practice is adopted but raises concerns about current rules and regulations.

Minister of Energy Phil Heatley is promising any gaps identified by the Commissioner will be addressed.

"And if there are any holes then we need to fill those holes and that's what I'll be working at. We're already looking at a whole bunch of regulation around the oil and gas industry and I'm sure a lot of those new moves will give her those assurances."

Jan Wright has today released an interim report into the practice of hydraulic fracturing, which is used to extract oil and gas.

She believes it is safe, as long as it is properly regulated and there's nothing she's seen so far that means the practice should be banned in New Zealand.

"I'm not calling for a moratorium at this stage, recommending a moratorium is a big thing to do, and I wouldn't do it lightly.

"It's a business employing lots of people with livelihoods at stake here."

Dr Wright says it's not clear where accountability lies when it comes to regulation and monitoring, but just trusting the industry is not enough.

She says when you get such complexity and fragmentation, things can fall through the cracks, and there's a lack of strategic oversight.

The Government believes the green light has been given for the use of fracking by the oil and gas industry.

Prime Minister John Key says the bottom line is the Commissioner's saying go ahead and do it.

"She's saying those who are scare-mongering and saying 'you can't do this, and it's not an activity New Zealand should be engaging in' are actually fundamentally wrong.

"She does make the fair point though, just make sure you carry it out in the right way."

But potential coalition parties are at odds over the use of fracking for oil and gas extraction.

Labour Leader David Shearer says it's a good report, well balanced and highlights there's a need for more hands-on regulation.

But he's not backing the Green Party's call for a moratorium on fracking.

"Well, I'm only telling you what the Labour Party position is. We've always said that we would be guided by the parliamentary commissioner."

A final report, with recommendations, will be released mid way through next year.

An East Coast anti-fracking coalition has rejected the findings of an interim report into the oil and gas extraction method.

Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment Jan Wright has found fracking can be done safely but highlights problems with regulation of the process.

Frack-Free Tairawhiti is calling for an immediate moratorium until it can be proven to be safe.

It says while the report is a start, it doesn't take into account of regional variation in the environmental risks.

Photo: NZ Herald

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