NT government accused of failing to address climate risks before approving Beetaloo Basin gas project
Letter from panel member of fracking inquiry says key recommendations have not been fully implemented A letter from one of the panel members of the Northern Territorys fracking inquiry says the Fyles government has not fully implemented key recommendations, including those aimed at reducing the risk new gas developments pose for the climate. Environment groups say it shows serious outstanding issues remain with plans to expand the gas industry in the Beetaloo Basin a day after the NT government cleared the way for a move from exploration to production . Sign up for Guardian Australias free morning and afternoon email newsletters for your daily news roundup Dr David Ritchie, who was tasked with overseeing the implementation of the Pepper inquirys 135 recommendations, wrote there had been material departures from some of its recommendations. They include recommendations to mitigate the risk of excessive greenhouse gas emissions, the risk of distrust in government and the risks to Aboriginal people and their culture. Recommendation 9.8 of the inquiry required the NT and federal governments to seek to ensure there was no net increase in life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions in Australia from gas projects in the Northern Territory. On Wednesday, the Northern Territory chief minister, Natasha Fyles, said we have absolutely met the recommendation but later acknowledged that meeting this requirement for scope 2 the energy used by gas companies and scope 3 when the gas is sold and burnt emissions would require work with the commonwealth government. Ritchies letter disagrees this recommendation has been implemented and states there has been no progress on the crux of this recommendation. The letter also says risks the inquiry identified to Aboriginal people and their culture were substantially unaltered and remained at an unacceptable level. Dr Sam Phelan, the Katherine region coordinator of Protect Big Rivers, said the letter suggested there were serious outstanding issues with the implementation of the inquirys recommendations despite the NT governments claims the necessary conditions had been met to move to production. Dr David Ritchies letter exposes how, despite Natasha Fyles making claims to the contrary, the NT government has fundamentally not implemented all 135 recommendations of fracking inquiry, she said. Kirsty Howey, the executive director of the Environment Centre NT, said the territory governments claims the recommendations had been implemented were misleading. This is a project whose emissions will be so vast theyre significant on a national and a global scale, she said. To pretend that that issue in particular has been resolved as promised is outrageous and a betrayal. Sign up to Morning Mail Our Australian morning briefing breaks down the key stories of the day, telling you whats happening and why it matters after newsletter promotion Alina Leikin, special counsel at the Environmental Defenders Office, said the offices own analysis of the 135 recommendations found less than half had been fully implemented. The government made a promise that it wouldnt detonate the carbon bomb in the Beetaloo unless every single fracking inquiry recommendation was implemented, she said. Fyles said as the world transitioned to a net zero economy, her governments priority was creating opportunities for territorians. All 135 recommendations from the Pepper inquiry have now been completed and there are now much stronger environmental, cultural, social, economic and health protections in place than ever before, she said. She said the government would carefully manage the onshore gas industry through a strengthened regulatory framework, ensuring greater transparency and accountability and with Aboriginal people having a seat at the table. In terms of 9.8 we have a large emitters policy, we have a climate change policy and in regards to scope 2 and 3 we acknowledge the work that needs to be done with the commonwealth government who we are partnering with, she said.