The Greens candidate for Heathcote in the NSW elections, Phil Smith, has renewed his party’s call for a moratorium on coal seam gas mining in the state.
He said gas extraction poses real risks for communities throughout the Heathcote electorate, a seat that spans from southern Sydney to the northern Illawarra.
The Labor state government recently approved 15 coal seam gas wells in the northern Illawarra region.
“The Greens are leading the call for an immediate moratorium,” Smith told Green Left Weekly.
“Coal seam gas mining risks include surface and groundwater pollution, land use impacts from surface infrastructure and greenhouse pollution from fugitive methane. It brings wells, roads, signs, fences, clearing, contaminated holding ponds, leaking wells and greenhouse gas. It leaves communities powerless in the face of a rapacious mining industry and a dearth of regulations.
“The dash for coal seam gas profits puts the drinking water for the Illawarra and the southern parts of the Sutherland Shire at risk. It is lunacy to permit developments that leak methane, a flammable gas, into bushfire-prone areas.”
Smith called for an independent inquiry into coal seam gas mining. “The Greens want to see a thorough environmental strategy for coal seam gas mining developed in full view of the public,” he said.
“This strategy must be founded on high quality, independent scientific advice and canvass all technically possible extraction methods.
“To consider coal gas extraction without such investigation and in the full knowledge of the damage done overseas by this sort of development is beyond comprehension.”