New South Wales, Australia’s most populous state, said it is extending until the end of the year a moratorium on the use of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, to extract natural gas from coal seams.
A 60-day moratorium was due to end July 23, according to a statement posted on the state government’s website today. The use of certain chemicals in drilling will be banned, it said. These are benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene -- known collectively as BTEX.
“We’re acting by introducing these tougher conditions” on coal-seam gas exploration in the state, Chris Hartcher, the resources and energy minister for New South Wales, was cited as saying in the statement.
Hydraulic fracturing, which injects water and chemicals into rock formations to free trapped gas, has drawn criticism from environmental groups and politicians who say it may contaminate drinking water supplies. France outlawed the technique on July 1, the first nation to do so.
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