Senator Glenn Lazarus’s 117-page interim Senate report on unconventional gas mining in Australia was released on May 4. It makes a case for much tighter federal control of the industry and the public resources it has access to, but does not recommend its closure. If anything the report underscores the need for a royal commission into the toxic industry that relies on commercial in confidence provisions to get away with poisoning people and the environment.
coal seam gas
We arrived at twilight and put up our tents using the headlights from the car. A young man at the camp helped us with threading those damned rods with elastic bits through the tape slots on the tent. We had just got it up when we heard a bell ring for the evening meal. The meal was delicious, catering for both vegetarians and meat eaters.
Activists from Stop CSG Sydney and the Australian Student Environment Network toured the AGL Camden CSG gasfields on April 17 to see for themselves how close gas wells are to homes. AGL has promised to end gas mining in Camden by 2023. Residents want them shut down now. The NSW government has said that gas wells cannot be drilled within two kilometres of homes, but it is happy for Landcom, the government's own developer, to sell house and land packages within a few hundred metres of major gasfields.
Anti-coal seam gas (CSG) activists took direct action on March 2 to prevent Transpacific Waste Water from accepting waste water from AGL's coal seam gas operations in Camden. Members of the Knitting Nannas Against AGL, CSG Free Western Sydney, Stop CSG Sydney, Stop CSG Penrith, Stop CSG Camden, Stop CSG Blue Mountains and Stop CSG Hawkesbury showed their concern about Transpacific's handling of AGL’s waste water by blockading their trucks.
In the Pilliga Aboriginal land rights, water supply, farming, local economies, world-leading astronomy research, the night sky, biodiversity and endangered species such as koalas are all under threat.
Jim Casey, until recently the secretary of the Fire Brigade Employees Union in NSW, has been preselected for the Greens candidate in the seat of Grayndler in Sydney. I interviewed Casey for Green Left Radio on February 5. * * * Last week Anthony Albanese, who is the Labor MP for Grayndler, lambasted you for being a socialist.
“Coal seam gas in New South Wales is dead in the water”, Julie Lyford, spokesperson for Groundswell Gloucester, said after AGL announced on February 4 it was quitting Gloucester. AGL had planned to drill at 300 sites in a geologically complex and rich farming region north-west of Newcastle. It had been facing fierce opposition for conducting tests in the Gloucester region under PEL 285. The decision has been welcomed by anti-coal seam gas (CSG) campaigners across NSW. AGL's licence was due for renewal on February 22.
If we needed any further proof that our politicians are "fossil fools", despite recent leadership changes, look no further than the responses made by the Prime Minister and federal resources minister to the call for a moratorium on new coalmines by the President of the Pacific island nation Kiribati, Anote Tong.
Hundreds from across NSW gathered outside AGL's HQ on September 2 to mark the 100th week of a protest first initiated by Camden residents angry that AGL is allowed to frack near their homes. AGL first started fracking in Camden, south west Sydney, in 2001. Speakers included Jennifer Schoelpple, Anne Thompson, an original Knitting Nanna from the Northern Rivers, Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham and Julie Lyford, president of Groundswell Gloucester.
A Greens Bill to protect NSW from the invasive coal seam gas industry failed in the Legislative Council by just three votes — 16 to 19 — on August 13. The Liberal National Coalition and Shooters and Fishers Party voted to protect the unconventional gas industry, while repeating the lie that it could co-exist with agriculture and pristine water catchments.
It was always a big ask for the NSW Labor Party to follow their counterparts in Victoria and Queensland and win the election on March 29. The corruption scandals involving former Labor ministers was a big handicap for the ALP at the previous election in 2011. As a result, Labor lost 32 lower house seats and the Coalition won 34 seats. The ALP was reduced to a rump of just 20 lower house members — the worst result for the party in more than 100 years.
State planning minister Brad Hazzard released draft guidelines to regulate NSW wind farms in December. The guidelines allow anyone with a residence within two kilometres to veto a wind power project. If the guidelines become law, this would put the brakes on the wind industry, as the coal seam gas industry bolts ahead.
The small town of Kerry, located on the Scenic Rim in Queensland's Beaudesert, is a prime food-producing area one hour from Brisbane. The land is now the site of a coal seam gas (CSG) exploration well. The community hasn't let this happen quietly. The property on which the drilling occurred has also been the site of a significant protest. A community blockade against foreign-owned CSG company Arrow Energy stopped work on the site for almost 10 days, until the company's trucks broke through by driving over dozens of hats laid down in protest on January 21.
In the face of a broad and growing campaign, rhetoric from the NSW government is beginning to match some of the risks when it comes to coal seam gas (CSG) mining. This begs the question: what is being done when it comes to CSG? In an interview about CSG mining on December 1, NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell told 2GB’s Alan Jones: “I don’t intend to allow — particularly after the drought we went through over a decade — mining or any other activity to threaten water resources.
People concerned about coal seam gas (CSG) will deliver a petition signed by more than 15,000 NSW residents to Premier Barry O'Farrell on November 22. The NSW-wide petition, initiated by Stop CSG Illawarra, calls for an immediate moratorium on all CSG projects, a Royal commission into the full impacts of CSG and an immediate ban on fracking. Stop CSG Illawarra member Chris Williams said: "Premier O'Farrell has pledged that any petition with over 10,000 signatures will trigger a debate in parliament.
More than 3000 people turned out on October 16 to walk across the Sea Cliff Bridge in the Illawarra in protest against coal seam gas mining plans in the area. The protest was further proof the coal seam gas (CSG) industry is in trouble. Its problem? An informed public. The Australian said on October 10 that a survey had showed the CSG industry was “losing the PR battle”, with 63% of respondents recalling a negative media story about CSG. Driving the bad coverage has been the large grassroots campaign against the industry.