WESTERN Australian Mines and Petroleum Minister Bill Marmion launched stringent new regulations for gas industry development in parliament yesterday to protect public health, water supplies and the environment.
“The state government has strengthened regulations to ensure best practices are implemented, in line with community expectations,” Marmion said.Marmion’s office said the framework was supported by new regulations mandating stringent well and environment management plans and baseline water monitoring.
“We will continue to keep stakeholders informed through transparent, timely and accessible information, in a manner that encourages trust and respect. I am confident West Australians will benefit from the gas industry and the jobs and local community opportunities it will bring.”
Marmion said the new Guide to the Regulatory Framework for Shale and Tight Gas in Western Australia would help give community members and landholders confidence that the state has “world-leading” regulation that respect people’s rights and WA’s most “valuable assets”.
The framework was endorsed by the Department of Mines and Petroleum, along with the departments of Environment Regulation, Parks and Wildlife, Water, Health, Aboriginal Affairs and Planning, the Environmental Protection Authority and the Office of the Environmental Protection Authority.
It outlines land access rules, water and air quality protection, well integrity standards and hydraulic fracturing chemical disclosure, including the prevention of chemical use posing unacceptable risks to public health, water supplies and/or the environment.
The DMP revealed that the amount of water used to hydraulically fracture a large horizontal well is about 21 million litres, equivalent to the amount used to irrigate one hectare of farmland for a year or supply water to 40 households for a year.
Up to 70% of hydraulic fracturing water is recovered for re-use, according to the government.
“From rules for well management and environment plans, to requirements for consultation and landowner compensation, this details our innovative, cross-agency approach,” Marmion said.
The framework outlines the DMP’s lead agency role in petroleum regulation, underpinned by agreements with the departments of Health and Water and memorandums of understanding with the EPA and the departments of Planning and Aboriginal Affairs.
The framework rests on five key principles: transparent, risk-based regulation; a whole-of-government approach; consistent State and Australian government objectives; effective engagement with stakeholders, particularly local communities; and compliance and enforcement.