Queensland Natural Resources and Mines minister Anthony Lynham announced on April 18 that the government has banned underground coal gasification (UCG) in the state, arguing the environmental risks outweigh the economic benefits. He said the ban, which would apply immediately as government policy, would be legislated by the end of the year. Underground coal gasification involves converting coal to a synthesised gas by burning it underground. The syngas is processed on the surface to create products such as aviation fuels and synthetic diesel.
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.
In a week of divestment actions, dubbed “Flood the Campus” starting on April 18, students across Australia took action demanding their universities divest from fossil fuels as a step towards tackling climate change. Initiated by 350.org, the protest was supported by the Australian Youth Climate Coalition (AYCC), environmental collectives, Resistance clubs among others.
Protest by members of the Wer'suwet'en First Nation against tar sands oil pipelines. Ian Angus is a Canadian ecosocialist activist and author. The editor of Climateandcapitalism.com, Angus is also the co-author of Too Many People? Population, Immigration, and the Environmental Crisis with former Green Left Weekly editor Simon Butler (Haymarket, 2011).
The Illawarra Knitting Nannas Against Gas (I KNAG), held a "knit-in", in Edgecliff in Sydney, at the office of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on March 21. He was not there and had not answered the two simple questions the Nannas had left him earlier. “Do you support a ban on coal seam gas (CSG) mining in drinking water catchments?" and “Would you move federal legislation to enact a ban on CSG mining in drinking water catchments?”
Slick Water: Fracking – and One Insider’s Stand Against the World’s Most Powerful Industry Andrew Nikiforuk Greystone Books/David Suzuki Institute 2015, 350 pages The fracturing of rocks to mine more fossil fuels was born with the oil business, writes the Canadian journalist, Andrew Nikiforuk, in Slick Water. During the world’s first oil boom in Pennsylvania in the 1850s, highly volatile nitro-glycerine and other explosives were used on sluggish wells with lethal risk, to turn them into gushers by creating new fractures to channel blocked oil to the surface.
Linc Energy will stand trial on five charges that it breached Queensland's environmental laws at its underground coal gasification site. The Department of Environment and Heritage Protection (DEHP) has accused the company of wilfully causing serious harm at its trial site near Chinchilla on the Darling Downs.
"This is a law to protect the rich. We will need to break these laws to protect our democratic rights," Aboriginal activist and lead NSW Senate candidate for the Socialist Alliance team in the federal elections Ken Canning, said on March 15.
Experts have laughed at a prediction by the environment minister Greg Hunt that Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions peaked 10 years ago. Hunt told the ABC’s AM program: “I believe that we have reached what is sometimes known as peak emissions. In my best judgment … we reached peak emissions in 2005-06 ... and the course of history to come for Australia is that we will continue to be below that figure.” Experts have laughed at a prediction by the environment minister Greg Hunt that Australia's greenhouse gas emissions peaked 10 years ago.
The NSW Minerals Council chief executive Stephen Galilee is keen on new anti-protest laws in NSW. He claims to be concerned about the safety of the workers as well as the protesters “illegally accessing mine sites”. Mining and Energy Minister Antony Roberts has been a little more blunt: he says the new law is aimed at better enforcing the protection of private property and “lawful business activity”. Most, however, can see through the spin.