Research raises alarming questions about CSG's climate impact

Aerial shot of the Tara coal seam gasfield, Queensland.

The Nature Conservation Council of NSW released the statement below on November 14.

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Revelations about the high levels of methane leakage from the Tara Estate coal seam gasfield in Queensland cast serious doubts on claims the industry’s greenhouse impact is relatively benign, according to the Nature Conservation Council of NSW.

“Industry has repeatedly claimed that CSG is a low-emission energy source because it contributes less to greenhouse gas emissions than other fossil fuels, but that argument may be blown out of the water by revelations aired last night on ABC TV’s 7.30,” CEO Pepe Clarke said.

The program revealed that a researcher at Southern Cross University, Dr Isaac Santos, had recorded very elevated levels of methane in the air above the gasfield using a specialised measuring device.

According to Dr Santos, the scale and distribution of methane levels in the gasfield suggested gas was escaping from the coal seam through cracks and fissures in the ground.

Clarke said: “If fugitive emissions of methane from CSG gas fields occur on the same scale as was detected around Tara Estate, this industry is potentially much more dangerous in terms of its contribution to climate change than traditional fossil fuels.

“This revelation adds to the long list of negative environmental and social impacts already associated with this dirty and destructive industry.

“We already know CSG threatens to pollute the state’s aquifers and waterways, and we already know it threatens hundreds of vulnerable native species through land clearing for pipelines, drill sites and service roads.

“Now it threatens to accelerate dangerous climate change by releasing tonnes of methane, one of the most potent greenhouse gases. When you tally up the environmental and social costs, it is clear that CSG does not make sense.”