Environment Minister Nick Smith does not look likely to launch the fracking investigation the Greens are calling for.

Green Party MP Gareth Hughes has called for a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing or fracking, a method used for extracting oil and natural gas which is locked in rocks underground.

The practice, which has been used in Taranaki for the past 20 years, has been banned in some countries because of environmental concerns, and Mr Hughes has called for a select committee inquiry into the issue.

The Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, Dr Jan Wright, is considering whether to conduct an inquiry.


Dr Smith said he would wait until the Commissioner had made her decision before deciding whether a select committee should look into the matter.

"The work that's been done in the Taranaki region has suggested that there's been no environmental issues ... the international evidence is that there are issues with fracking where it's used in quite shallow shales for the extractions of petroleum,'' he said.

"All of the fracking that has been done in New Zealand, and proposed to date, has been at a very deep levels where we can not find any international evidence of adverse environmental impacts.''