The new gas fracking regulations released by the West Australian government give the industry special treatment, according to environmental campaigners.
With the state estimated to have one fifth of the world's shale gas reserves, the fracking industry is set to become a key platform for WA's continuing industrial development.
Fracking involves the release of natural gas by fracturing shale rock thousands of metres below the earth's surface.
The state government has released draft regulations covering water monitoring and well management, with the state's Department of Mines and Petroleum (DMP) handed greater enforcement power and companies facing harsher penalties for breaches.
Dr Tim Griffin, the deputy director general of WA's DPM, said the government intended to come down as hard as it was able against companies in breach of regulations.
"We would apply the maximum penalties if there is a problem with people operating these wells," Dr Griffin told ABC radio.
But Piers Verstegen, director of WA's Conservation Council, said they failed to address potential environmental issues.
"The DMP's draft regulations appear to follow the trend in other parts of the world where gas fracking has been exempted from normal environmental controls that apply to other industries.
"It is totally unacceptable that the most toxic and polluting industry that we are aware of would be given this sort of special treatment."
At least one energy company is planning to pilot a fracking program in the Kimberley later this year.
But the Conservation Council has called for a moratorium on fracking in until thorough assessment of environmental and health risks have been conducted.