Police throw the book at coal seam gas protester

Banner draped on a coal seam gas rig in the Pilliga forest, north-western New South Wales, July 5. Photo: Kate Ausburn

The statement below was released by a coalition of groups that held a protest on July 5, disabling a coal seam gas rig in Pilliga State Forest in NSW.

* * *

Yesterday, in a first for NSW, a coal seam gas rig was the target of a peaceful protest, with a protester scaling 25m into the air and hanging suspended from the rig for almost 16 hours. The rig was working in the Pilliga Forest, near Narrabri in north-west NSW.

The protester, Warrick Jordan was arrested late on Tuesday afternoon, and spent close to five hours being processed by police at the Narrabri police station.

“It was an historic day yesterday, which we believe will be remembered as a turning point in the fight against coal seam gas in NSW. This growing peoples movement has just entered a new phase of powerful direct action and non-cooperation in NSW” said Ms Carmel Flint, spokesperson for the Northern Inland Council for the Environment, who attended the protest.

“The police have responded to these events by really throwing the book at Warrick Jordan.

“He has been charged with five separate offences, including two offences under the Crimes Act and two offences under the Inclosed Lands Protection Act. The charges range from entering inclosed land to risking the safety of others and causing damage to property.

“These charges will be vigorously defended. The protest was entirely peaceful, it occurred in a public forest, and there was no damage of any sort as a result of it.

“The only damage that is occurring in the Pilliga Forest is being done by Eastern Star Gas. They are destroying bushland and habitat for threatened species, and they plan to turn one of our most precious forests into a giant gas field.

“The proposed gas field in the Pilliga Forest is the thin edge of the wedge – this project will entrench the coal seam gas industry in north-western NSW and spread out across bushlands and farmlands alike, representing a serious threat to the Great Artesian Basin.

“We will continue to work together with landholders and concerned citizens alike to fight the threat which this represents to our natural assets, our communities and our way of life,” she said.

Information or comment: Carmel Flint 0400 521474

Comments

Can you advise the source of generating power that you may need from now to say the next 10 to 15 years for electricity if you were to need it for every day use. ie
running a petrol pump, pumping up a car tyres, street light security, need the use of a hospital, buy chilled, frozen or warm food, traffic lights, listen to a radio station, read a newspaper.
These and many thousands of operations need peak power 24 hours a day.

The CURRENT sources of power that can fulfil these needs can come from [1] nuclear [2] oil [3] coal [4] hydro [5] gas
Which of these would you approve, knowing that solar is there but cannot supply peak power and wind is up against a head wind with the noise and visual impact.

I would like to know your thoughts

Thanks
Gary Cahill

"When injustice becomes law, rebelling becomes duty".....favourite quote at the moment. Love to Warwick for having the courage to do what he has done.

Thank you to the brave & courageous ones who are voicing their protest on behalf of the environment - the environment can't speak for itself - it is up to us! None of us will be able to eat & drink the gas money, once the water is toxic that's it - irreversible damage!
Prayers for the brave.
Wendy cameron

Honestly would one of you Greenies seriously tell us where you want us to get power from. Wind , solar Geothermal is not ready and too expensive and your against coal seam gas. Bythe way, your argument of fraccing used in CSG........there is no fraccing at ESG sites

Gary that's a good point. For some time I have been arguing that to be anti-coal you have to be in reality pro-gas. Is warrick in favour of acarbon price then an ETS? If so and if he is anti-coal then he and other environmentalists (of which i am one) need to realise that what the carbon price will do is ENCOURAGE a swap from coal to gas in power generation. That's what it is aimed at doing along with encouraging renewables. You need peaking power supplied by gas-fired power generation to smooth out the supply from renewables like solar and wind. Gas will be the "transition fuel" to a low-carbon economy.

The aquifers will be protected as they are in Qld by stringent regulation and monitoring. Eastern Star Gas does not frac and the coal seams that it targets are well below and sealed from the aquifers used for agriculture and drinking .. which are quite shallow. Its in everyones interests that they get it right including their own!

It saddens me to see protests against safe coal seam gas extraction, and therefore supports the continuation of the burning of coal in coal-fired power stations.

The Federal Greens are about to announce their agreement with the Federal Government for a carbon tax. The effect and PURPOSE of this carbon tax is to enable gas-fired power to replace coal-fired power. The price on carbon will not be enough to make solar and wind economic in their own right. it designed such that the dirtier coal-fired power will be phased out (gradually so as not to put all power stations out of business overnight), and phase in gas-fired baseload power stations.

So that is what the Carbon Tax is designed to do - replace coal with gas, to have an immediate and large reduction in our carbon emissions. Gas as a transition fuel to 100% renewables, which is simply not currently feasible.

Unfortunately, the East Coast of Australia does not have large amounts of 'conventional gas'. Coal seam gas is the only option if gas is required. As such, coal seam gas provides the maximum energy extracted, with the minimum footprint. Taking up a tiny portion of land, which will be rehabilitated or offset. And is no threat to the Great Artesian Basin whatsoever. Farming, and the drilling of bores directly into the water table poses a far greater threat.

In fact, withdrawing the water from coal seams, isolated by hundreds of metres of impervious rock from the water table, can then be treated and discharged into our depleted river systems. This will come to be seen as a valuable resource once the inevitable droughts return to the region.

I implore anyone who is passionate about this issue to do their research thoroughly into CSG, and how it is such a valuable fuel in the effort to reduce carbon emissions . That means FULLY understand the science of coal seam gas and how it is extracted. Just like with climate science, you need to understand the science in order to make an informed judgement. And like science, you need to be prepared to challenge your own views to see if they stand up to scrutiny.

Many of us share environmental goals. And, there are always difficult choices to be made. The choice I have made is to put carbon reduction, via gas replacing coal, as my number one concern. And if that means safely using a fraction of regrowth scrubland that was previous part of failed efforts to farm, that is what it means. It is a small price to pay to reduce Australia's carbon emissions.

Solar now provides 24 hour power. The Torresol Gemasolar plant in spain stores heat from the sun to run steam turbines for up to 15 hours after sundown. Instead of investing into a new generation of gas power stations, we should start the transition into this form of energy. It would be almost 100% emissions free and we could bypass a whole stage of dirty fossil fuel development.

Maybe all you Greenies should go back to Tassie and take Bob Brown with you .
Burn candles for light , sell your cars , sell your houses , quiet your jobs (what jobs if you worked and paid taxes you would not have time to climb up drill rigs )
Hope like hell you don't hurt yourselves or get attacked by the Tassie devil when you forage through the bush for food . There will be no hospitals .
And leave the wild life alone no meat for you Greenies .
Have fun living like the caveman http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caveman

Greg . D

The figure I have read is that 89pc of the CSG gas extracted is heading for China and other overseas destinations...We could protect our last great wildernesses such as the Kimberley and the Pilliga and still have plenty of coal and gas...but no.........

, greedy billion-dollar-profit-making mining companies are attempting to destroy our land our water our very lives in the name of GREED and profit, none of which apart from a few lousy jobs will improve Australian lives, to the contrary they will just leave a big mess and useless land bereft of more of our native animals.

Does that answer your question.

The really sad thing is that all these underground coal mines are removing methane from their longwalls as they mine and it is just disposed into the environment and wasted. Note that methane is 25 times worse than carbon dioxide.

There are mines that spill more than 2500 litres per second into the environment which is enough to power all of Maitland continuously...eg Ravensworth UG, Ashton, Wambo, Blakefield..just to name a few...shame on them

The issue of how to supply peak electricity power to essential services is not an easy question to answer. Do you start by reducing the need for those or load those services require? Do you find alternative energy's? Are alternative energy's viable? all relevant questions. However, Coal Seam Gas mining and the damage done to the environment needs to be reviewed and questioned. I was shocked at the damage done to the environment and water sources by this type of mining when i recently watched the documentary Gasland. There is simply no excuse or justification for the wholesale wanton destruction to the natural, finite resources, such as water that CSG mining does. There must be better solutions.

I recall two separate proposals to build this type of plant in Australia- both were being touted as the biggest solar power plants in the world at the time (mid 90s?). I also recall that among the many challenges presented to those projects were environmental concerns!

Hi Greg D, hope you're willing to put your money where your mouth is and allow them to mine for coal seam gas in your backyard, poisoning your drinking supply & creating a health hazard for you. Otherwise you're a total hypocrite.

There's this stuff called renewable energy, it's been around for a while now but clearly nobody's heard of it... it's actually a MORE advanced technology than fossil fuel burning, as it doesn't require fuel to generate electricity! FANCY THAT?!?

Hope you enjoy living in your cave with your gas shower and stove and power when the rest of the world is running on concentrated solar thermal, offshore wind & geothermal.

Trick.

stringent regulation and monitoring would put CSG out of the picture - we could be investing these millions of dollars on clean renewable energy right now - instead we have a fossil fuel industry gasping its last gasp at the expense of a future- my thanks go to those dedicated young people who put their lives on hold to right what 's wrong.
trish mann

"The really sad thing is that all these underground coal mines are removing methane from their longwalls as they mine and it is just disposed into the environment and wasted. Note that methane is 25 times worse than carbon dioxide."

> ABSOLUTELY INCORRECT. Please do you research. Coal seam gas extraction does not have longwalls. Longwalls and open cut 'mining' are to do with the MINING of coal (digging the coal up). Coal seam gas extraction is a sealed system, and the coal remains exactly where is it, up to a kilometre below the surface. Only the methane is extracted, and is NOT vented into the air. It is collected as part of a closed system, and then piped to gas-fired power stations, or liquiefied and exported to countries like Japan.

So much better and smarter than digging up and burning of dirty coal. This is why I support it.

If you are talking about 'fugitive gas emissions', then they are MINISCULE in coal seam gas extraction. Large amounts of methane escape into the atmosphere when COAL IS MINED, because the coal is dug up and the methane escapes. This doesn't happen with coal seam gas extraction. And this is EXACTLY why I want to replace coal-fired power stations with gas-fired power stations - to reduce the carbon emissions from the burning of coal, and to reduce the fugitive gas emissions from the MINING of coal.

And, this is what the Carbon tax is designed to do - make the burning of coal in coal-fired power stations more expensive, and make gas-fired power stations viable, where emissions are 40-70% less than coal.

Forget pissy emission targets of 5% or 20% - gas-fired power reduces harmful Greenhouse emissions by 40-70% compared with coal. Wouldn't it be great if Australia could achieve those sorts of emission reductions?

"Gas-fired power reduces harmful Greenhouse emissions by 40-70% compared with coal". That is, as you put it, "ABSOLUTELY INCORRECT". Renfrey Clarke has done the research here http://www.greenleft.org.au/node/47220 showing that emissions from the gas industry are roughly the same as coal.

Forget about a transition via fossil gas, we can do direct to 24 hour zero emissions power right now with a mix of solar thermal and wind power.

Thank you for your reply.

The article you quote from makes the following claim, which is the crux of its argument against the use of gas:

"To be burnt in a power station, natural gas has first to be extracted and transported. If this broader picture is considered, natural gas ceases to be particularly “clean” in greenhouse terms even when compared with coal. In fact, it can be downright filthy.

The trouble is the gas that gets away, leaking into the atmosphere without being burnt. "

So it is accepted that the burning of gas in power generation is far cleaner than the burning of coal. So the debate all comes down to the claims that more gas escapes from coal seam gas extraction than it does in coal mining. So, to make a scientific comparison, we would have to compare the emissions associated with the extraction of gas and the burning of gas vs the mining of coal and the burning of coal? Logical? Make a comparison using 'the broader picture ' - coal, end-to-end vs gas, end-to end. Fair enough?

Cate Faehrmann, Green MLC in NSW, was kind enough to post some reserach on her website about so-called 'fugitive gas emissions'. This is a link to a study in the US into the Greenhouse effects of gas vs coal, end to end. (and no, it wasn't funded by the gas indistry, in case you were wondering! :)

From Cate's website, this is the link to that study:

http://p2pays.net/ref/07/06348.pdf

""Based on data collected, methane emissions from natural gas operations are estimated to be 314 ± 105 Bscf (6.04 ± 2.01 Tg) for the 1992 baseline year. This is approximately 1.4% ± 0.5% of gross natural gas production. This study also determined that the percentage of methane emitted per gas production rate for an incremental increase in natural gas sales would be between 1.19% and 1.38% of the total gas production, compared to 1.4% of production for the baseline case. Results from this study were used to compare greenhouse gas emissions from the fuel cycle for natural gas, oil, and coal using the GWPs recently published by the IPCC. The analysis showed that NATURAL GAS CONTRIBUTES SIGNIFICANTLY LESS TO GLOBAL WARMING PER UNIT OF ENERGY THAN COAL OR OIL, WHICH SUPPORTS THE FUEL SWITCHING STRATEGY SUGGESTED BY ipcc AND OTHERS. " p5. (my emphasis).

Yes, fugitive gas emissions exist from natural gas production, in very small amounts (1.4%). But the amount of gas escaping as a percentage is so low that when you compare the greenhouse impact VERSUS COAL, it still has gas-fired power as a far more preferable option than coal. WHY< because more methane escapes during coal mining than gas extraction, and then there are more adverse emissions during the power production stage also.

But, if you really believe that gas is worse than coal, then I seriously suggest you start campagining AGAINST the carbon tax, AND SOON. Because the carbon tax, about to be signed off by the Greens, is designed to allow gas to replace coal in power generation - that is the point. At around $20/tonne, gas becomes competitive with coal and we can start phasing out coal. At around $80-$100/tonne, solar and wind become economic without subsidies.

And that is what the carbon tax is all about - putting a price on carbon, such that the marketplace can migrate away from coal-fired power.

Whilst this issue divides the Green community, I think you find Bob Brown accepts that gas, as a transition fuel, is a far better option, end-to-end, than coal. This issue is not one that is serious debated in academic circles. It is why many of the world's biggest economies are looking to replace coal with gas.

So if you are going to compare apples with apples, then you also have to compare coal mining, END-TO-END with gas , END-TO-END. And as that study indicates, and logic tells us, the gas emissions during the mining of coal in the open air are far worse than in the extraction of gas in a closed system, whilst leaving the coal in situ.

But the point is we are already past the safe climate zone, as the http://www.350.org/ campaign reminds us.

You suggest we have to choose between two different types of dirty fossil fuels (gas and coal). Both will cook the planet.

Whereas if we are to avoid runaway climate change we have to choose clean zero emissions power. 24-hour solar power is online now in Spain http://www.climatespectator.com.au/commentary/dawn-baseload-solar-energy

Gas is an expensive, dirty and polluting detour we simply cannot afford.

Is it just me, or has this discussion simply ignored the previous (false) contentions about coal seam gas and how it is worse than coal? Such contentions are entirely without a factual basis, and do nothing but misinform the debate.

Instead, Mr Jordan hangs off a coal seam gas drill while the real culprit (coal) continues to pollute?

Coal seam gas is protested against, and yet it use in gas-fired power will result in 40-70% emission reductions compared with coal. Crikey, even the Federal Greens only have a target of 40% reductions on 1990 levels by 2020. Why not 100% if solar was technically feasible to replace coal-fired baseload power? Perhaps because, even Bob Brown knows that renewables cannot replace the current baseload power generation. So gas is a necessary transition.

The world is not so black and white as some make out. There are many 'shades of green'. And the Federal Greens, as they are about to come to a compromise with the Government, are realising this too. I wish they had come to a deal with Kevin Rudd two years ago. We might have already started on the path to lower emissions...

Over and out for me. If anyone GENUINELY wants some information about coal seam gas - how it is completely isolated from the water table; how many companies (like ESG) don't do 'fraccing', and those in this country that do don't use harmful chemicals; how the methane is removed whilst the coal is left, and how the methane then burns cleanly in gas-fired turbines; and how water, removed from the coal seams (not the water table), and then treated, can be beneficially and safely discharged into our depleted river systems, feel free to have a genuine look at the technology with an open mind. You may be pleasantly surprised at the emissions savings this country is about to achieve because of this technology.

But, if you have decided that nothing but a 100% solution will do, and it must be achieved yesterday, then I am afraid no one can help you with that....

Strange bedfellows.

It seems to me ironic how farmers are now being portrayed as the new green. Im not having a go (ok maybe I am) but would like to point out if farmers are so worried about the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing, dont go poking around the average farm shed because the industry is very heavily dependent on chemicals and fossil fuels for the production of food and profit. (Eastern Star Gas is not using hydraulic fracturing to recover gas) I also find it funny that so many groups including the Greens and ABC are willing to go into bat on behalf of an industry who claim the land as theirs, Im sure the first Australians might have something to say about that.

A lot of farmland in times past was cleared for grazing by attaching large chains behind two massive bulldozers and letting rip, everything caught in the way was levelled, not only that some farmers went ballistic before changes came in into law to stop the practice.

One of the many reasons why whats below remains property of the Crown is so that governments or councils can run services for the betterment of the larger community in the ground. Can only imagine what it would be like if farmers tried to stop the rollout of the NBN, electrical lines, water mains, or dare I even suggest gas lines, unlike what was shown in Gas Land - Eastern Star Gas is not running its pipes above ground. Would also be interested to know the equivalent amount of wind turbines it would take to equal one gas well, as the last scene of the film shows a large number, so I conclude that the filmmaker is trying to put forward his version of an alternative energy source, I cant imagine the average farmer enjoying thousands of wind turbines across their property or the construction required to achieve such an outcome.

Personally Id be happy if the government used the money it will generate from coal seam gas to transition to a greener future, and maybe it would be helpful to the environment if we all become vegetarians, as sheep and cattle farming is identified as a large admitters of CO 2, but that wouldnt be good for farmers now would it.

Kind regards Monkeyboy.

Ps, Im off to have a salad.

100% renewable grid options are just now becoming available with the commercialisation of solar-thermal power plants. To invest heavily in gas now would be perverse. Gas infrastructure has a long lifetime, 30-40 years or so in the case of power stations. That is a long diversion AWAY from renewable energy.

It is not greenies who decided "nothing but a 100% solution will do, and it must be achieved yesterday" - it is climate scientists like James Hansen of NASA.

"Greenies" base our climate action proposals on what is necessary to avoid dangerous, out-of-control global warming, not what is good for gas industry profits.

Coal should be phased out as renewables are built. Gas should simply be left where it is. Too bad, Mr Gas Miner.

It is true that there is much research to be done on CSG fugitive emissions. Perhaps they are worse than coalmines, perhaps not - it depends on the coal bed in question I would imagine. But CSG can tap much deeper seams than coal mines generally do, and so could be opening up more intense fugitive emissions. There is also a lot of methane dissolved in the entrained water from these gas wells, it's not just about cracks through the ground.
.BCC

Well, I guess you have just been 'sold out' by the Federal Greens and Bob Brown then. Because details of the new Carbon tax agreement just leaked to the ABC is to price carbon at a level ($23/tonne) that allows the transition from coal to gas. THAT is what the Federal Greens have just signed up for. It is a KEY component of the policy - to immediately move from coal to gas.

There are a multitude of views on the Green side of politics. So it will be interesting to watch one group of environmentals protesting against a policy that has just been endorsed by the Federal Greens. The Federal Greens, it seems, have been convinced.

Is this issue going to split the environmental movement right down the middle? Two strongly held views, one diametrically opposed to the other?

So, it looks like Mr Jordan's beef is with Bob Brown, and not any gas company. Bob Brown appears to be in cahoots with the Gas Industry! Or, maybe he has actually read the science of coal seam gas and gas-fired power? Or become pragmatic in his old age? :)

Don't you just LOVE the irony! :)

Sorry for being like a scratched record about the farmers, but I cant help thinking why when the short comings of live cattle export is shown wanting, media can force a Government ban at the drop off a hat and because farmers cry poor they will flip flop on a dime.

The Greens (the party) kept quite as the compo is to doshed out like a drunken sailor on bender, but if our interests or stock price is damaged by unfounded media claims the silence is deafening. Politicians instead try to have a bet each way by slapping the CSG industry with a moratorium although the industry has been subject to years of government regulation and oversight.

Farming and land management worldwide produces more CO2 than all the worlds vehicles put together. Fact, google it if you don’t believe this post, farmers are not the friends of the greens they don’t like you and never have, another fact Bob Brown seems to have missed in his quest for power like the shabby treatment of cattle in the live export trade.
When we look back at Pauline Hanson and how her views could have grown so popular, you can’t go past certain sections of the media that gave her way too much oxygen and failed to ask the hard questions. It’s ironic that Bob Brown who for years was treated with kid gloves, is becoming so very testy towards certain sections of the media willing to ask tough questions now he holds power in a minority government.
I would ask anyone looking to find where the truth lays in this debate checkout Horizons-business BBC http://horizonsbusiness.com/#playlist/107 as I think it shows the future of clean energy and where this country can go if CSG is not stubbed out by the self interests of a very powerful farming lobby.

Kind regards MB.

PS, Thanks to Greenleft for letting me post here even if my views are widely shared.

It would be useful if you actually went down the burrow and read the reports to which you refer.

The IAE says this:

"Natural gas displaces coal and to a lesser extent oil, driving down emissions, but it also displaces some nuclear power, pushing up emissions."

Now, did you get that? Natural gas displaces coal and to a lesser extent oil, DRIVING DOWN EMISSIONS. So there it is - gas produces less emissions than coal or oil. Arguments that try to argue otherwise are fallacious and only promote the continued use of coal as a fuel. (the coal industry must absolutely LOVE hearing such arguments on Green Left, and must laugh at the antics of Mr Jordan - you are their unwitting pawns).

And the other part: "But it also displaces some nuclear power, pushing up emissions". So, if natural gas were to displace nuclear, it would push up emissions - that is, nuclear has lower emissions than gas.

Okay, now we are talking about policy in Australia, and what we should do to replace baseload coal-fired power. So, when we replace coal with gas (and, IT WILL BE), emisisons will go down. And because Australia has no nuclear power industry, gas will not be replacing nuclear.

So the effect of replacing coal with gas in power-generation in Australia is to reduce emissions by 40-70% - more, in fact, that the current emissions reduction target of the federal Greens for 2020.

The conclusion from the IEA is clear in reference to Australia - gas replacing coal reduces emissions. (and, if you wanted to reduce emissions even more, you would go for nuclear). But, I suspect most readers of this forum, whilst in favour of reducing emissions, would baulk at nuclear.

One finally comment for those that believe gas needs a price on carbon of $40/tonne in order to make gas-fired power economic. Not true. BUT, the proof of the pudding will be in the eating. Because if new gas-fired power stations start being built after the $23/tonne carbon tax, those companies clearly believe that such a price on carbon IS economic. What these companies are good at is knowing what makes money and what does not. And so does the Government. And so do the Federal Greens - that is WHY they set the price at $23/tonne - as the minimum required to migrate to gas-fired power.

If 40% emissions reductions were sufficient to stop dangerous climate change then I'd be listening to you. But they aren't: we need 100%. There is renewable energy technology available now that can provide energy security with zero emissions.

Building gas infrastructure like gas power stations with a 30-40 year life span means either we lock out renewables, or we have these big stranded assets when the shit hits the fan a few years later and we go 100% renewable.

It's sad that the Greens just don't get it on emissions targets but that's their problem.

The least emissions-intensive gas plant is a CCGT plant. These run a steam turbine off the waste heat from the gas turbine. But they are not flexible like a peaking plant (OCGT). To match our great wind power resource, we really need flexible, despatchable power. OCGT plants have significantly worse emissions than CCGT.

The best solution is a mix of wind and solar thermal power a la Beyond Zero Emissions' Zero Carbon Australia plan. Currently, gas is in a competition with renewables as to which will replace coal. Better we keep the coal plants a couple years longer and build 100% renewable. The safest place for all those hydrocarbons is naturally sequestered underground where they've been for aeons.

BCC

Is produced making a solar panel....

20 leaks and spills in the Pilliga by eastern star gas

If you like our work, become a supporter

Green Left is a vital social-change project and aims to make all content available online, without paywalls. With no corporate sponsors or advertising, we rely on support and donations from readers like you.

For just $5 per month get the Green Left digital edition in your inbox each week. For $10 per month get the above and the print edition delivered to your door. You can also add a donation to your support by choosing the solidarity option of $20 per month.

Freecall now on 1800 634 206 or follow the support link below to make a secure supporter payment or donation online.