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Opposition doubts fracking assurances

Wednesday 28 Nov 2012 5:19 a.m.

A fracking rig in Pennsylvania, US (AAP)

A fracking rig in Pennsylvania, US (AAP)

Opposition parties don't trust government assurances that it will introduce stronger regulations to control fracking.

Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment Jan Wright released a report on Tuesday which says the controversial oil and gas extraction method can be carried out safely but the rules around it are too light-handed.

Ms Wright is working on a second report which will recommend new regulations.

Energy Minister Phil Heatley and Environment Minister Amy Adams agree it's important to have strong regulations.

They say their ministries will respond to the recommendations when they are published and are already consulting on ways to control fracking.

Labour's energy spokeswoman Moana Mackey says the Government must take the report seriously.

"Let's hope the assurances that the Government will support any recommendations put forward don't turn into hollow promises," she said.

The Greens still want a moratorium on fracking - injecting water and chemicals into locked up oil and gas deposits to release them - which they say is responsible for contaminated ground water and earthquakes.

"The report doesn't say fracking is safe, it says it can be effectively managed if best practice is enforced through regulation," said energy spokesman Gareth Hughes.

Fracking releases gas and oil deposits by pumping large volumes of water, sand and chemicals into rock.

Prime Minister John Key says the economy will suffer if the controversial oil extraction method is not used.

"I think it's critically important. You've seen in the United States the enormous use of shale gas and what that's done for sustainability of energy in the US, and without fracking, I suspect it would hold New Zealand back."

An anti-fracking group claims the controversial hydraulic method for extracting oil and gas could cause irreversible damage to Canterbury's environment.

Frack Free Canterbury spokesman Jolyon White says that acknowledges it can contaminate water if carried out incorrectly.

"Farming… agriculture… recreation… everything depends on the pristine water that's down this way, so obviously that's a big concern."

The petroleum industry predictable welcomed the report and said it had cooperated with Ms Wright's inquiry.

NZN / 3 News

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