Category Archives: Featured

Bentley gas drilling suspension shows social licence is critical

Media release – 15 May 2014

Greens mining spokesperson, Jeremy Buckingham today welcomed news that the government has suspended Metgasco’s licence to drill for gas in the Northern Rivers because of a failure to consult with the local community, saying that it was a huge win for the people power and the community and a clear demonstration that a social licence is both real and necessary. bignumbersbentley

“This is a fantastic win for the people of the Northern Rivers that have united in great spirit and determination to protect their land, water and community,” said Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham.

“The Bentley blockade is a physical manifestation of the social licence and shows that a social licence is not only real, but necessary for an industry like coal seam gas to operate.

“People across NSW consider coal seam gas as unsafe and unnecessary.  From Western Sydney, to the Northern Rivers, to Narrabri, to Gloucester, the community is saying no and that they are prepared to put their bodies on the line to stop this industry.

“Metgasco have patently failed to win the support of the community and are finished. They should pack up and leave.

“The Greens want a total ban on coal seam gas because it is unsafe, unnecessary and unwanted,” he said.

Contact: Max Phillips 0419 444 916

Government & Rio Tinto should respect Supreme Court’s decision

MEDIA RELEASE – 7 April 2014

Bulga John Krey

John Krey from the Bulga Milbrodale Progress Association addresses the media outside the Supreme Court of NSW

The Greens NSW spokesperson on mining Jeremy Buckingham today congratulated the people of Bulga on their win in the Supreme Court, which dismissed an appeal brought by Rio Tinto and the NSW Government.  He called on both appellants to now respect the decision of the court by dropping plans to expand the Warkworth coal mine and removing the SEPP amendment that prioritised mining over the community or environment.

“The Greens congratulate the community of Bulga and the Environmental Defenders Office on a fantastic and important victory in the Supreme Court today,” said Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham.

“The original Land and Environment court judgement was a landmark ruling that restored some rationality and balance to mining development assessments and it is significant that the Supreme Court of NSW has supported the judgment.

“Rio Tinto should respect the court judgements and the community of Bulga and abandon their plans to expand the Warkworth coal mine.  The original expansion plans were economically justified by a high coal price that has since collapsed.

“The NSW government should respect the Court’s judgement.  There should be no special legislation to overturn these decision and the government should repeal the recent planning instrument that made economic considerations the primary factor for coal mine assessment.Bulga celebration

“This judgement shows the importance of communities having the ability to challenge assessment decisions.  This ability has largely been removed by the implementation of the process where the Planning Assessment Commission reviews its own decisions.  The Greens support the reinstitution of a merit appeal process with the Land and Environment Court.

“Without the Environmental Defenders Office, the community of Bulga would not have been able to defend their community.  Premier Barry O’Farrell should reverse his previous decision to strip the EDO of funding so that ordinary citizens and communities can be properly represented in our courts,” he said.

John Krey Bulga

Contact: Max Phillips – 9230 2202 or 0419 444 916

Govt bungles aquifer interference policy on Santos’ giant coal seam gas project

MEDIA RELEASE  4 April 2014

The Greens NSW spokesperson on mining Jeremy Buckingham today expressed his dismay that the government’s centrepiece policy to protect groundwater, the Aquifer Interference policy, will not apply to the assessment of Santos’ 850 gas well project, despite admissions from Santos that there are risks to aquifers, a record of contamination incidents and the fact that it sits above a Great Artesian Basin recharge area.

Santos have lodged their Preliminary Environmental Assessment with the Department of Planning as the first stage of the assessment process.  Page 29 says: “an aquifer interference approval would not be required for the proposed development” arguing that this is because the government has not made the appropriate ‘proclamation’.

“This is a catastrophic bungle by the O’Farrell Government.  The Aquifer Interference policy is meant to be the centrepiece policy to protect groundwater from mining.  That it does not apply to the largest coal seam gas project in the state is a complete farce,” said Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham.

“The Greens call for any assessment of the project to be halted until the government can rectify this bungle to ensure that the Aquifer Interference requirement is applied to the assessment of the Santos project.

“If this is an intentional oversight to help push through the Santos project, then the government has a lot of explaining to do.  If it is a bungle, then the Water Minister should resign.

“The Preliminary Environmental Assessment admits that coal seam gas development may impact on groundwater quality and quantities, with risks that cross-contamination of aquifers can occur and there may be cumulative drawdown impacts and subsidence.

“A major concern about coal seam gas has always been its impact on water.  This project cannot slip through a loop hole and put at risk local water resources and the Great Artesian Basin.

“Other concerns with the project include bushfire risks, the vague plans to deal with the massive amounts of salt and toxic waste water this project will create, as well as significant native vegetation clearing and industrialisation of the Pilliga forest and surrounding bushland,” he said.

A project brief sheet follows.

Contact: Max Phillips – 9230 2202 or 0419 444 916

 

The Preliminary Environmental Assessment document has been released by Santos for the Pilliga coal seam gas project.

http://www.santos.com/library/Narrabri%20Gas%20Project%20request%20for%20DGRs.pdf

The project will be 850 gas wells with an area of 98,000 hectares.  It will include high voltage power lines hooked up to the state grid; an expansion of the already massive waste water facilities; in-field compressor stations; as well as a large gas treatment plant.

Major issues:

1)     Claim they do not need to get an Aquifer Interference approval.

P.29 Although Santos admit “the project would encounter groundwater, and would, therefore, penetrate an aquifer” they claim that the government has not ‘proclaimed’ the Aquifer Interference provisions of the Water Management Act.   “Accordingly, an aquifer interference approval would not be required for the proposed development.”

 

Aquifer interference approval was the O’Farrell Government’s major policy put in place to protect aquifers from damage from mining. It is the centrepiece of their policy response.  The fact that the biggest coal seam gas project in NSW, that sits on top of a Great Artesian Basin recharge area, does not need to get an aquifer interference approval is a scandal.

 

2)     Admission that project will likely damage groundwater.
P.39-40 Admit the project has the impact to damage groundwater through:

  1. Depressurisation
  2. Leakage through poorly constructed gas wells
  3. Changes to groundwater quality
  4. Cross-contamination of aquifers
  5. Cumulative drawdown impacts
  6. Subsidence
  7. Spills and leaks affecting shallow alluvial aquifers
  8. Changes to groundwater ecosystems

3)     There is no clear plan for waste water or salt management.
The EIS is vague about how it will dispose of waste water, brine and the huge quantities of salt it will produce.  It is highly likely that the salt will have to be buried as land fill.  This will require a site of hundreds of hectares.  Where will the salt be buried? P.14-15

A significant expansion of the waste water ponds will be required. These ponds are already 800 mega litres or 325 Olympic swimming pools in size.

 

4)     The project is likely to be connected to the electricity grid and require high voltage transmission lines through a bushfire prone area. P.15-16

 

5)     Admission that a fire at a gas well head could initiate a bush fire
Placing a major gas field in the middle of a highly bush fire prone forest has always been a major concern for local residents.

 

6)     Santos admit there will only be 200 ongoing jobs.
P.41

 Download this press release.

Ground water contaminated with uranium 20x limit & other poisonous elements – game over for coal seam gas

MEDIA RELEASE – 8 March 2014

Ground water contaminated with uranium 20x limit & other poisonous elements – game over for coal seam gas

The Greens NSW spokesperson on mining Jeremy Buckingham today called on the NSW government to halt all coal seam gas projects after the NSW Environmental Protection Authority found that gas company Santos had seriously contaminated ground water with toxic elements such uranium, arsenic, lead, and boron at its coal seam gas Bibblewindi water treatment plant near Narrabri.  Uranium has been detected in the aquifer at 335 micrograms per litre, which is 20 times safe drinking water levels. Pilliga CSG well

“This is game over for coal seam gas.  Here is definitive proof that unconventional gas, such as coal seam gas pollutes aquifers with extremely toxic elements,” said Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham.

“It is totally unacceptable for ground water to be contaminated with radioactive uranium 20 times the safe drinking water limit.   Poisonous elements such as arsenic, lead and boron have also been mobilised and concentrated by coal seam gas extraction and then leaked into the aquifers.

“The gas industry often states there are no ‘proven’ cases of gas extraction leading to aquifer contamination.  Well here is the proof.

“The Greens call for the Santos Narrabri project and other coal seam gas projects in NSW to be halted immediately.  Other aquifers cannot be put at risk of serious pollution.  This type of contamination represents a serious health risk to humans and animals.

“It is scandalous that the government knew of this serious contamination incident when they announced the MOU to fast-track Santos’ Narrabri project, and when the Premier downplayed concern about the chemical risk associated with CSG on radio by likening it to chewing gum. 

“The dead vegetation in this area has given a clear visual indicator of this instance of contamination. There may be many, many more instances of pollution below ground that are not visible but are very real and will have long term effects on the aquifers and environment.  This incident is the tip of the ice berg.

“The fears of farmers and the community that coal seam gas was putting water resources at risk have been vindicated.  The claims by the gas industry that coal seam gas is safe are now disproved.

“The NSW Environmental Protection Authority has become a fig leaf for industrial pollution in NSW.  The tiny fine issued is staggering and there should be an inquiry into their failure to protect the environment in this case and others.”

Contact: Max Phillips – 0419 444 916

Download PDF of media release

A Warning from Wyoming – John Fenton Tour

Fenton tour website

In Feb/March 2014 we are bringing John Fenton, a cattle rancher from the USA, out to Australia where he will be telling his story of how fracking for gas poisoned the water in his home town of Pavillion, Wyoming.

Following the drilling of 200 gas wells in his region, drinking water now has to be trucked in and local farmers have to ventilate their houses when they run a bath or have a shower or risk an explosion from the build-up of gas. Some locals have developed major health issues connected with the chemical pollution.

Hear John Fenton speak about this situation and the battle against fracking being waged in the USA.  For more information visit www.fentontour.com or click on the links to the following tour dates:

96.6% of NSW still open for fracking

MEDIA RELEASE – 28 January 2014

The Greens NSW spokesperson on mining Jeremy Buckingham today called on the O’Farrell government to increase the land area protected from coal seam gas after only 3.37% of NSW was protected from fracking in its ‘finalised’ CSG reforms saying that many productive agricultural areas and water resources, as well as key tourist and environmental areas are still under threat.

Dish Texas gas wells from above

“Only 3.37% of NSW’s land area is protected from fracking for coal seam gas, and only 0.4% of land is classified as a critical industry cluster.  96.6% of NSW, including most agricultural, environmental and tourism areas can still be turned into a gas field,” said Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham.

“It’s a bad sign for the community that new resources minister Anthony Roberts has taken up the rabidly pro-CSG stance of former minister Chris Hartcher.

“The government has failed to apply the cluster regulation equitably or strategically, with only two agricultural industries gaining protection.

“Why is it that viticulture and equine industries have been granted protection from coal seam gas as critical industry clusters, but other valuable industries such as horticulture, rice and other cropping, irrigation areas, dairy, oysters, and tourism have no protection?

“For example, the Greens believe that in the case of irrigation districts the infrastructure, improvements to land and associated services should be protected from disruption by gas development.

“The Greens will move in parliament to expand the definition of critical industry clusters to ensure other important agricultural industries are protected from the threat of coal seam gas.

“The industrialisation of productive agricultural land is not in the long-term interests of NSW.  Food and fibre production are increasingly important industries worldwide and NSW should be promoting renewable energy not a new era of polluting fossil fuels.

“Andrew Stoner is disingenuous when he states that NSW has the strictest regulations on coal seam gas as Victoria has a total ban on fracking until 2015.”

Contact: Max Phillips – 9230 2202 or 0419 444 916

Artificial gas shortage can be fixed with domestic gas reserve

MEDIA RELEASE – 29 November 2013

The Greens NSW spokesperson on mining Jeremy Buckingham called on government and industry to discuss domestic gas reservation as a sensible regulatory response after the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) in its Gas Statement of Opportunities 2013 predicted a gas shortage in the East Coast network – particularly in NSW –  caused by the move to export vast amounts of LNG from Gladstone, Queensland.

Jeremy Buckingham & Drew Hutton at Tara, QLD

“The rush to export huge amounts of LNG is severely distorting the East Coast gas market and the only sensible response is for the government to regulate the industry to ensure domestic supply to households and the manufacturing industry,” said Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham.

“The AEMO report notes that domestic demand for gas will only increase by 0.9% per annum and it is LNG exports that are causing an artificial gas crisis.  Conventional gas supplies from Moomba in South Australia will be directed away from Sydney and redirected to the LNG export facilities at Gladstone to fulfil export contract commitments.

“Santos admits they will not be able to connect their coal seam gas fields near Narrabri to the Sydney pipeline until 2017 at the earliest, with 2018-19 being far more realistic.

“NSW Resource Minister Hartcher should stop bleating about coal seam gas and talk with his state and federal colleagues about reserving some of Australia’s conventional gas for domestic needs to  avoid this looming market failure.

“Why should the LNG gas consortiums be able to prioritise exports to North Asia over the gas requirements of Australian businesses and households?  Why aren’t governments acting to ensure Australian gas is made available for Australian use before it can be exported?

“The United States only allows gas exports after it has been proved that there is not a domestic market for the gas.  Australia is neglecting its national interest by failing to regulate gas exporters,” said Mr Buckingham.

The Greens are currently discussing policy responses to the gas shortage, including potential support for a gas reserve that is compatible with a rapid transition to renewable energy.

Contact: Max Phillips – 9230 2202 or 0419 444 916

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