On 31 January 2020, ABC news reported that the federal government coughed up $2 billion to NSW, the first of many agreements, to expand Coal Seam Gas for gas-fired electricity production across Australia. The water-hungry Narrabri gas project is central to the deal. Expansion is being driven by projected LNG exports for quick and dirty profit.
The Prime Minister is spruiking gas as a "transitional fuel" despite its high carbon emissions. Gas drilling has been leaking more methane into the atmosphere than previously thought according to recent research by ANSTO.1
On the ground, extraction means drilling gas wells and laying pipelines across vast tracks of unique Indigenous country and valued farm land, threatening the Great Artesian Basin and the mighty Pilliga Forest.
Raymond "Bubbly" Weatherall, Gunu Gunu clan and Biridja clan, says the Gamilaraay people are fighting Coal Seam Gas for "our water, the environment and the land itself. We have no choice but to fight, because this is our country, our culture, and the planet we all depend on."2 Santos' Narrabri gas seam project is the largest ever proposed in NSW, laying two feet wide pipes in the Pilliga Scrub, sinking 850 gas wells, out of each well a truck load of salt with nowhere to go.3 You can view a grim pictorial history of Coal Seam Gas in the Pilliga online.4
In NSW, Lock the Gate is actively resisting the Narrabri gas expansion, developing Lock the Gate Tip Sheets with information to help build local campaigns, how to start an action group, and how to keep groups functioning effectively.5 Like and follow Protecting the Pilliga on facebook6 or donate to Lock the Gate Santos Appeal.7
Pilliga Rising, a 38-minute documentary, gives a heart-warming insight into community resistance to Coal Seam Gas in the Pilliga forest and across north-west NSW. Wherever you are, The Wilderness Society Newcastle invites supportive individuals and groups to host a screening of 'Pilliga Rising', at your local community centre, university or in your living room.8 You can also watch it online.9
In Melbourne, Friends of the Earth continues to campaign against fracking and conventional gas drilling. You can Volunteer with FOE to join ongoing collective action with No New Fossil Fuels Victoria.10 Your voice is more important than ever to protect Australia from gas expansion and shift to a clean, green energy future.
Kristine Philipp is a volunteer researcher with FoE Melbourne's Act on Climate collective.
Published in Chain Reaction #138, May 2020. National magazine of Friends of the Earth Australia. www.foe.org.au/chain_reaction