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Landmark climate litigation over public money for fracking

On 17 December 2020, Minister for Resources and Water Keith Pitt announced a new program to provide grants of up to $50 million of taxpayer money to gas companies to speed up shale gas exploration and production in the Beetaloo Basin. On the 7th of July, Minister Pitt, in the middle of a Senate Inquiry into fracking the Beetaloo Basin, announced that the first grants from the Beetaloo Cooperative Drilling Program would be awarded to Imperial Oil and Gas to support three new exploration wells. Imperial Oil and Gas is a wholly owned subsidiary of Empire Energy.

On 28 July 2021 ECNT commenced proceedings against Minister Pitt and the Commonwealth arguing that the Minister was required to make reasonable inquiries into a range of matters before giving Imperial a large amount of taxpayer money, including how exploitation of the Beetaloo sub-basin would impact climate change and Australia meeting its Paris Agreement obligations. In October 2021 the ECNT joined Imperial Oil & Gas to the proceedings. The proceedings are listed for hearing on 2 and 3 November 2021.

The tide is turning against the public funding of fossil fuels companies, amidst the climate emergency. As has been made clear in the Senate Inquiry, is still widespread opposition to fracking in the Northern Territory, including by Traditional Owners whose lands and waters will be damaged by fracking operations. The case is a crucial test case challenging the grant of public money to fossil fuel companies and provides a critical opportunity to shine a light on the catastrophic climate effects that would be entailed by fracking the Beetaloo Basin.

Take action now

Here are three things you can do right now to support the fight against fracking in the Beetaloo:

Support SeedMob to protect country, land, and water from fracking by taking their pledge.

Ensure the Environment Centre NT can keep fighting for a safe and healthy climate future for Territorians, by donating here.

Contact the Northern Territory’s Environment Minister Eva Lawler and express your disapproval over her recent decision to approve seven exploration wells in the Beetaloo: [email protected] +61 (08) 8936 5566.