The ATSE has undertaken or contributed to a number of activities relating to unconventional gas in recent years, including:
- A 2013 report by the Australian Academy of Learned Academies (ACOLA) titled Engineering Energy: Unconventional Gas Production;
- A 2015 international conference titled Unconventional Gas: Opportunities and Challenges, including a public forum on the issues around unconventional gas;
- A 2015 international workshop of national Academies of engineering and science from Australia, the US, the UK, Canada, China, South Africa, Argentina, Germany and Switzerland, which considered the cumulative output of national reviews from these countries;
- Submissions and contributions to a number of Australian reviews, including the Hawke Review in the NT, the Victorian Parliament’s inquiry, the Australian Senate’s inquiry into unconventional gas mining, and the review by the NSW Chief Scientist and Engineer, Professor Mary O’Kane AC FTSE.
The ATSE said that the scientific evidence examined through these activities has been clear – although unconventional gas extraction (including fracking) presents risks, these risks can be managed through the use of best practice, effective regulation and comprehensive baseline studies and monitoring. The social and community concerns about these risks are legitimately held and it is essential that governments and industry actively engage with communities through evidence-based information derived from properly conducted research, not via arbitrary, state-wide bans.