PCE launches fracking inquiry

Dr Jan Wright, Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, has confirmed that her office will undertake an inquiry into the issue of hydraulic fracturing, better known as fracking.

The possibility of a inquiry into the mining process had been foreshadowed earlier in the month by the commissioner, who has just completed a report examining the issue of water quality in New Zealand waterways.

Although fracking has been used in various forms in New Zealand for several years, the issue has been the subject of increased media scrutiny recently. The process, which uses high pressure fluids to fracture porous, gas-trapping rock, has been suggested to cause negative environmental and health effects as well as linked to earthquakes. However, there is little publicly available hard scientific data relating to fracking effects in a New Zealand context.

Regarding the new inquiry, Dr Jan Wright says the preliminary work from her team indicated there is a need to examine the issue more closely.

“The work that has been done by my office thus far shows a substantive case for an official investigation under the Environment Act.

“Over the next few months my staff and I will conduct this investigation and produce a report to Parliament.

“I realise this is a hugely contentious issue and I would hope to have a report tabled in the House before the end of this year.”

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