Government takes another small step on CSG

Friends of the Earth media release, June 5 2012

Government takes another small step on CSG

Friends of the Earth today welcomed the announcement that the state government has signed up to the National Partnership Agreement for the Regulation of Coal Seam Gas (NPACSG).

“Just a month ago the government was maintaining a position that there were no issues with CSG in Victoria” said Friends of the Earth campaigns co-ordinator Cam Walker. “The recent release of the EDIC report into new mining operations was the first admission that existing regimes may not provide adequate protection to land owners when faced with CSG or coal proposals.”

“However, the government should be under no illusions that this process or the commitment to establish an Advisory Council will solve the current debate about CSG and coal mining in Victoria.”

“While the NPACSG was set up to strengthen the environmental regulation of coal seam gas proposals and large coal mining developments which may have a significant impact on water resources, it keeps final approvals for these operations with the states. While the NPACSG rewards jurisdictions that incorporate independent scientific research into assessing the effects of CSG on water resources, there is no federal trigger for intervention, and state governments do not have to act on federal advice.”

“With a state government that keeps promoting new fossil fuel developments, it is hard to have any faith in this process.”
“What would show that this government actually has a commitment to listen to community concerns in regional Victoria would be to announce a moratorium on all new on-shore coal and un-conventional gas operations until there has been a thorough investigation into the likely impacts of this industry on:
·    water resources,
·    farmland and food security,
·    local communities and natural biodiversity, and
·    greenhouse emissions.

“Instead of signing up to national standards Victoria should be looking at what is happening in Queensland as a result of a rampant CSG industry, most recently with methane gas bubbling up through the Condamine River, apparently as a result of CSG drilling.”

“With no commercial CSG or Tight Gas operations at present, this is Victoria’s best and only chance to assess wether it wants to take the risk of opening the door to a wave of on-shore fossil fuel projects.”

“The Premier could direct the Energy Minister to initiate a moratorium today. No new legislation is required. The only thing that is lacking is political will.”

“Signing up to a national process without announcing a moratorium can be seen as little more than attempt to window dress a deeply unpopular industry.”

Further comment
Cam Walker. 0419 338 047