Kimberley, Media release, News

Call for upfront environmental bonds to protect taxpayers from fracking disasters

Lock the Gate Alliance has called for the upfront payment of environmental bonds on all fracking exploration and production activities in WA after a fracking company collapsed in the Kimberley leaving taxpayers to foot the bill for its clean-up.

A spokesperson for Lock the Gate Jane Hammond said the fracking inquiry had recommended that the WA government “should require appropriate financial assurances to cover potential environmental liabilities” from fracking companies but she said this did not go far enough.

“We would like to see upfront environmental bonds paid by fracking companies prior to any exploration or production activities taking place in WA,” Ms Hammond said.

“These bonds should be held in trust and only released after the fracking company had remediated the site and removed all infrastructure to the satisfaction of regulators and the public.

“If the company goes belly-up before it has cleaned up its mess then at least taxpayers will have something to help pay for the damage.

“We see time and time again collapsed mining companies paying out their liabilities and leaving their environmental responsibilities to last. Upfront bonds protected by legislation and actually enforced will go some way to protecting taxpayers from having to pay millions of dollars in clean-up costs.

“Larger upfront environmental bonds would also be required prior to any act of fracking taking place.

“The collapse of New Standard Energy in the Kimberley, without cleaning up its mess, is likely to cost taxpayers millions of dollars to fix.

“That is money that should be going to schools, hospitals and other services not paying for a clean-up that should have been done by the company.

“The WA Fracking Inquiry also recommended that fracking companies pay into a fund to cover liabilities defaulted by other fracking companies and we applaud this move but await to see exactly how much the companies will be asked to pay to bail out their competitors.”