Sydney — The state of Western Australia (WA) is to ban onshore hydraulic fracturing while it looks into the risks associated with the drilling technique, its environment minister said on Tuesday, making it the fifth Australian state to restrict the process. The state of Victoria has banned hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking", as well as shale and coal-seam gas exploration, and the Northern Territory, New South Wales and Tasmania already have moratoriums in place. The blocks come despite a growing gas supply crisis in Australia, where a large portion of supply in the continent’s east is drawn from coal-seam developments. However, farmers and environmental groups are worried that groundwater reserves could be depleted or contaminated by both conventional and unconventional onshore gas drilling. The WA moratorium was promised to voters by the state’s centre-left Labour Party, which won office at an election in March. "We appreciate there is a level of community concern around fracking ...

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