'The capacity of the legal system to manage environmental risk through environmental impact assessment ('EIA'):
a study on natural gas fracking'
Laura Schuijers presented her thesis on Thursday 1st February 2018
Supervisors: Professor Jacqueline Peel and Associate Professor Margaret Young
Abstract: A desire to attain energy security has motivated the expansion of natural gas fracking in recent years. Natural gas, large reserves of which can be tapped through fracking, tends to be viewed as a ‘bridging fuel’, linking the carbon-intensive past with a more sustainable (and Paris-compliant) future. Fracking exposes a complex relationship between energy and water – one that affects a broad and diverse range of stakeholders, and which ultimately raises the question as to whether energy security can be achieved in the near-term future without jeopardising clean water and aquatic ecosystems. This thesis examines how the Australian legal system can manage the risks of fracking through environmental impact assessment (‘EIA’). Taking an interdisciplinary and systems-based approach, it identifies key gaps in federal Australian law, and the implications of those gaps for protecting the environment from adverse impacts.