The Wilderness Society released the statement below on November 18.
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Western Australian Environment Minister Bill Marmion’s approval of the James Price Point gas processing precinct in the Kimberley is so completely flawed that Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke can only reject the WA assessment, which breaches the Strategic Assessment Agreement between the two governments in many ways.
“This sham decision is hardly surprising since the WA Government is both the project’s proponent, through the Minister of State Development, Premier Colin Barnett, as well as its primary assessor,” said Wilderness Society Kimberley Campaign Manager Glen Klatovsky.
“Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke will now have to conduct his own new separate assessment using public inquiry provisions of Environmental Protection, Biodiversity and Conservation Act. This is the perfect example of why the federal government should not hand over approval powers to the states because they can't be trusted.
“The Wilderness Society will continue to fight this unnecessary, environmentally destructive and socially irresponsible development, which is still the subject of ongoing court action.”
Wilderness Society Western Australia Campaign Manager Peter Robertson said: “With the WA Premier being the proponent of the James Price Point gas plant precinct, the entire WA assessment process has become a sham. This was highlighted by the embarrassing conflicts of interest on the Environmental Protection Authority board and the government’s decision to allow just one member of the board to make the EPA’s decision and a one-man committee to hear the appeals.
“The EPA’s assessment itself has failed to properly consider sites for the gas processing plant outside the Kimberley. Then there were the failings in the assessment of whales, dolphins, sawfish, sea turtles, bilbies, dinosaur footprints, monsoon vine thicket and dredging, many of which have been criticised by independent scientists. There has also been no assessment of the social, cultural and economic impacts – as required by the strategic assessment agreement.
“Even the appeal committee said there was a need for more studies on the project's impacts on whales, dolphins, dugongs, turtles and sawfish, so how can Mr Marmion possibly approve it without these studies?”