The Western Downs Alliance has started legal proceedings to challenge federal environment minister Greg Hunt's approval of 6100 coal seam gas wells in Queensland. The Santos GLNG Gas Field Development Expansion covers almost 1 million hectares of land, from Roma east to Taroom and Wandoan, and north towards Rolleston.
AGL's Camden Gas Project, in the Macarthur region of south-west Sydney, has 144 coal seam gas (CSG) wells, of which 96 are currently in production. Twenty of the wells are close to the Nepean River and the upper canal, which carries drinking water from Nepean Dam to Prospect Reservoir. One well is just 40 metres from the river. AGL's CSG mining alongside the Nepean River risks contaminating this water with carcinogenic chemicals and volatile organic compounds.
As South Asia swelters through a record-breaking heatwave — with reports of hundreds of lives lost in India on top of the hundreds of farmer suicides this year owing to crop failures due to drought — a May 20 Reuters report that Pakistanis were digging mass graves in preparation for heatwave-related deaths brings the grim situation we are in into sharp focus.
About 3000 people, young and old, women, men and children, kayaked from Horseshoe Beach and blocked Newcastle Harbour to stop the coal ships on May 8. Organised by 350.org and other climate change campaigners, the Break Free event was a great success and also fun. There was a large contingent of First Nations people from all around Australia and internationally, from Samoa and other Pacific islands that could disappear due to rising sea levels.
The Illawarra Knitting Nannas Against Gas (IKNAG) held a knit-in outside the office of the federal deputy leader of the ALP, Tanya Plibersek, in Sydney on May 16. IKNAG's Annie Malow contacted Plibersek with two questions asking for "yes" or "no" answers. The first was: Do you support a ban on CSG mining in drinking water catchment? The second was: Would you move legislation for such a ban? Plibersek was not in her office, but two of her staffers came out offering the Nannas several balls of wool — all the wrong colours.
About 100 protesters, adorned in yellow and black berets, skirts, scarves, blouses, dresses and umbrellas gathered outside the Santos HQ near Circular Quay on May 4 to tell Santos to frack off from the Pilliga, near Narrabri. With them, sitting in a nearby tree, was a huge koala — symbolising one the endangered species whose habitat is being destroyed. Protests were also held in Brisbane, Newcastle and at the company’s headquarters in Adelaide where the new CEO was fronting his first AGM. Santos has lost more than $1 billion on its coal seam gas (CSG) project at Narrabri.
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.
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.
Hundreds marched down the main street of Katherine in the Northern Territory on April 20 to call for the protection of water, country and culture from fracking gasfields. From Alice Springs to Arnhem Land, pastoralists, Traditional Owners, kids, community, musicians and whip crackers turned out to have their say.
Concerned residents gathered outside Lismore City Council on April 19 as the NSW Planning Department briefed council on the Draft North Coast Regional Plan. Spokesperson for Gasfield Free Northern Rivers, Dean Draper said: “They should be offering a community briefing in Lismore so we can clearly send our message that this regional plan must be amended to remove the current references to CSG. As well as this removal we are demanding that the plan clearly spells out that there will be no unconventional gas exploration at all for the life of the plan.