The Wilderness Sociey put out this media release on November 13.
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The NSW government’s new policy to offer compensation for those affected by the coal seam gas industry is just a desperate attempt to try to buy support for the toxic industry, the Wilderness Society said today as the government finally released the policy days after leaking it to the media.
“The NSW government knows that the coal seam gas industry is so toxic that its new policy resorts to bribing farmers and communities to accept living and breathing in a toxic gas field,” said Wilderness Society Newcastle Campaign Manager Naomi Hogan. “No amount of money will be enough if farmland, groundwater and the environment is polluted for decades to come.
“It will be a complete travesty if NSW uses taxpayers' hard-earned money to subsidise a dying industry that will only deliver increasingly higher gas prices for the people of NSW.
“The government’s new coal seam gas policy is an admission it has failed when it comes to safeguarding the community from the toxic industry. The Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has proven itself completely inadequate when policing the coal seam gas industry, especially the Santos Narrabri Gas Project in the Pilliga Forest, and is the subject of a parliamentary inquiry.
“It has been left to community members to alert the public to Santos’s long, tragic history of failure in the Pilliga, with at least 20 toxic coal seam gas waste water pollution incidents, including the contamination of an aquifer with uranium and other heavy metals. For that incident, the EPA slapped Santos with a wet lettuce of a $1500 fine.
“The government will have no credibility if it doesn’t apply this policy to all coal seam gas activity including assessment of current proposals. It will be a complete farce if it doesn’t apply this policy to the assessment of the state’s biggest proposed coal seam gas scheme, Santos’s Narrabri Gas Project.
“What’s more startling is that the NSW government is pushing Santos’s gas project in the Pilliga Forest, the most important recharge zone for the Great Artesian Basin, the only major water source for almost a quarter of the Australian continent.
The hardy people who live in Australia’s harsh dry inland rely on groundwater for their very existence and they deserve better than a government playing Russian roulette with their water supply and their very existence.
“The coal seam gas industry has proven it is unsafe by polluting groundwater when it said it never would. The coal seam gas industry was given its chance and it failed miserably.”