Tag Archives: Coal seam gas

Tighter control needed for risky practices with coal seam gas water in NSW

The Greens have condemned the paltry fine given to gas company Santos for not having appropriate approval for using treated coal seam gas water and called for an increase in penalties for breaches of licences or misconduct.

NSW Greens MLC and Resources spokesperson Jeremy Buckingham said, “Santos has today received an inadequate fine for using treated water from its Narrabri coal seam gas operations for irrigation at Leewood without the appropriate approval.

“In practice, a $1,500 fine is a slap-in-the-wrist for a big gas company like Santos who see the weak penalties for breaches as merely another cost of doing business.

“AGL’s attempts to irrigator saline treated coal seam gas water at Gloucester ended in failure. The Santos attempts, even if legalised, will also end in failure.

“In the United States, they call irrigating land with coal seam gas water “land farming”. They basically contaminate the land and let salt tolerant weeds grow.

“There are serious questions that remain unanswered about the use of coal seam gas in NSW. The safe disposal of the large amounts of salt and wastewater generated by coal seam gas operations is a massive issue and one companies like Santos have yet to be resolved.

“The regulation of coal seam gas is not up to scratch in NSW, with this breach at Narrabri the latest in a long line of breaches and pollution incidents involving various coal seam gas projects.

“The Greens call on the Government not to grant any approval for the use of treated coal seam gas water until it can be proven safe and for an increase in penalties for breaches of licences or lack of appropriate approvals,” he said.

IPCC Special Report means NSW must phase out coal within 10 years

The IPCC’s Special Report out today outlines a climate catastrophe of unprecedented scale and impact on our community and nature if global warming is permitted to rise by more than 1.5 degrees.

The scientific consensus found:

  • all coral reefs would be unlikely to survive global warming of 2 degrees, including the Great Barrier Reef;
  • sea level rise would be about 10cm less at 1.5 degrees; and
  • an increased risk of long-lasting or irreversible changes at 2 degrees, including the loss of more species and ecosystems.

In terms of fossil fuels, the report finds coal use for electricity must be virtually eliminated by 2050 if the 1.5-degree limit is to be met.

Greens Energy and Resources Jeremy Buckingham said, “Today’s IPCC Special Report is a call to arms — the coming decade is critical in the fight to protect the people we love and our planet from dangerous climate change.

“That’s why the Greens policy is to phase out coal mining in NSW in the next 10 years. The science of this report makes it clear that we cannot continue to burn coal and protect the climate.

“The failure by the Federal Government to have a credible climate or energy policy means that NSW must implement its own climate and energy policies. Victoria, Queensland, the ACT and South Australia all have credible climate and energy policies, while NSW has sat on its hands waiting for direction from the Federal Government. Meanwhile, Federal energy policy has descended into chaos and farce.

“The next few years will be history defining. This government and the next can either fiddle while the climate heats beyond our control, or they can transform our community, economy and natural world by phasing out coal and powering our world by 100% renewable energy.

“This transformation will bring with it great opportunities for new jobs and innovative technologies. Australia can transition away from being a quarry and lead the way on renewable innovation, exporting our science, know-how and clean solar power fuel to the world.

“The task of phasing out fossil fuels is now critically urgent. If the world had acted after the 1992 Rio Earth Summit, the task would be easier, but Labor and Liberals, taking millions from fossil fuel donors, have squibbed it.

“Climate and energy policy will be at the top of the March 2019 state election, including seats where the Greens are challenging the Coalition such as Lismore and Coogee, and the seat of Barwon where the National’s backing of coal seam gas is deeply unpopular.

“The Greens are the only party serious about dealing with the climate emergency in Australia. When will the other parties take steps towards the serious levels of carbon emission cuts we need and admit there is no future for coal or coal seam gas?” he said.

IPCC Special Report on impact of global warming of 1.5 degrees online here:


Greens NSW Greens 10-year plan to phase out coal and protect the climate available here:


Greens welcome cancellation of Central Coast CSG licence and push for stronger community protection

Media Release - 26 September 2018

The Greens have welcomed the announcement that the NSW Government has cancelled the PEL 461 coal seam gas exploration licence on the Central Coast following strong community opposition.

Greens Resources spokesperson Jeremy Buckingham called on stronger action from both the NSW and Federal governments to protect communities against the impacts of coal seam gas activities.

He said the NSW Government should cancel the remaining coal seam gas licence covering Santos’s mega-gas field proposal in the Pilliga and the Federal government must halt gas exploration off the coast of Newcastle and the Central Coast

“The buyback and cancellation of the PEL 461 exploration licence is a great win for the local community and all who have joined the fight to protect our land and future from coal seam gas,” he said.

“But there is important and unfinished business when it comes to protecting communities from the dangers of coal seam gas exploration and production.

“The Central Coast community does not support an offshore gasfield off its coastline that would put at risk whales, marine life and threaten valuable fisheries. Prime Minister Scott Morrison should prohibit offshore gas and oil development off the NSW coast.

“All NSW communities deserve equal protection from the risks of coal seam gas, farmers and landholders need safety as much as urban communities in marginal electorates.

“Right now, there is an active proposal from Santos for a controversial 850-well coal seam field over 95,000 hectares in the Pilliga.

“The Narrabri coal seam gas field would become the largest coal seam gas in the state and risk vast areas of woodland, threatened species and groundwater from the Great Artesian Basin. Exploration activities for this project have already seen toxic wastewater leak from holding ponds and contaminate local aquifers.

“Coal seam gas is too risky for the Pilliga. The NSW Government should buy back the Santos licence and give the local community greater security over its precious water resources, the Pilliga forest and its future,” Mr Buckingham said.

Cancel or buyback gas exploration licences covering the Liverpool Plains

MEDIA RELEASE - 16 May 2018

NSW Greens energy and resources spokesman Jeremy Buckingham called on the government to cancel or buyback petroleum exploration licences (PELs) covering the Liverpool Plains after the resources minister Don Harwin admitted in Question Time that the PELs were connected to the Narrabri gas project proposed by Santos.

NSW Greens energy and resources spokesman Jeremy Buckingham said:

“The minister has let the cat out of the bag and confirmed what farmers have always fears – that the Narrabri gas project is the thin end of the wedge for coal seam gas across the region.

“It’s concerning that the Narrabri gas project may eventually expand to include coal seam gas wells on the Liverpool Plains.

“While Santos says it has ‘no plans’ to drill for gas in its exploration areas over the Liverpool Plains, the exploration areas are clearly connected and if the Narrabri project is approved they may become active exploration areas.

“The nature of unconventional gas is that it has to continually look for new gas wells to replace older wells. It moves across the landscape in a grid pattern.

“Farmers on the Liverpool Plains and elsewhere are right to be concerned that if the Narrabri gas project goes ahead, there area may be targeted for gas in the future.

“The government should give the farmers and community of the Liverpool Plains certainty and cancel or buyback these gas exploration areas.”

Video of the Question and Answer: https://youtu.be/lmO0vqOFsE4


15 May 2018

Mr JEREMY BUCKINGHAM ( 16:23 ): My question is directed to the Minister for Resources, and Minister for Energy and Utilities. Six petroleum exploration licences cover part of the iconic Liverpool Plains. Given that at Santos’ recent annual general meeting its chief executive officer Kevin Gallagher told farmers that Santos has no plans to drill the wells in the Liverpool Plains but it cannot excise those parts of its licences that cover the Liverpool Plains and that it is something it will have to live with, will the Government provide certainty to the farmers of the Liverpool Plains by cancelling or buying back the parts of the petroleum exploration licences that cover the Liverpool Plains and permanently rule out gas extraction in this area?

The PRESIDENT: Order! I call the Hon. Rick Colless to order for the first time.

The Hon. DON HARWIN (Minister for Resources, Minister for Energy and Utilities, and Minister for the Arts) ( 16:24 ): I thank Mr Jeremy Buckingham for his question. As he indicates, those licences do have a connection with the Narrabri project that is currently being investigated by Santos. The Santos-Narrabri project and its associated environmental impact statement [EIS] were lodged on 1 February 2017 and exhibited between February and May last year. It is a matter of public record that the EIS attracted a large number of submissions from the community and Government—the highest number of submissions ever received for a publicly exhibited EIS.

On 13 April, just a few weeks ago, the Department of Planning and Environment received Santos’ formal response to submissions for the project. The department is currently reviewing the response to submissions, which will be thoroughly considered by the department on its merits under legislation and New South Wales Government policy guidelines alongside the EIS. The application is currently progressing through a system of processes under the State significant development provisions of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act. I am sure Mr Jeremy Buckingham would be aware that the development assessment process is being handled by the Minister for Planning, but there are clear project benefits from the Narrabri—

Mr Jeremy Buckingham: Point of order: My point of order relates to relevance. I do not believe the Minister is being genuinely relevant to the question which related to petroleum exploration licences over the Liverpool Plains. The Narrabri gas project is a distinct project. I asked a question about petroleum exploration licences [PELs] and not about the Narrabri gas project. The Minister has talked only about the Narrabri gas project. I ask that he be drawn back to the substance of the question.

The PRESIDENT: I will look at the question. I thank Mr Jeremy Buckingham for his point of order. I believe that the Minister is being generally relevant. The Minister has the call.

The Hon. DON HARWIN: The project can deliver on the Government’s priorities for a secure, reliable and affordable gas supply for the residents of New South Wales within the current market and related gas supply framework. It can provide a mid-to long-term domestic gas supply in New South Wales. It can also offer certainty to wholesale and retail customers in the short term by providing insulation from price shocks. It will have the capacity to generate up to 50 per cent of the State’s gas supply at peak production, or 200 terajoules a day for more than 25 years. I visited the site of the project and some of the wells that have been dug. I spoke to people in the community who are concerned about the project and I met with a range of groups in the Narrabri community. There is extremely strong support for the Santos-Narrabri gas project in the town of Narrabri. The community understands what this project is worth to the town. It also understands the royalties and what that would mean for the State Government.

The PELs surround the Narrabri Gas Project. Nevertheless, the project and what is affected is dealt with by the EIS. While the project is in the development assessment phase, I am not proposing to take any action on the PELs until that process is concluded. I note that the PEL that covers the area south of Gunnedah— [Time expired.]

Mr JEREMY BUCKINGHAM ( 16:30 ): I ask a supplementary question. Will the Minister elucidate his answer about his comment that the petroleum exploration licences over the Liverpool Plains were “connected to the Narrabri Gas Project” by informing the House how they are connected to the Narrabri Gas Project?

Berejiklian guts protections for clean drinking water for Sydney

MEDIA RELEASE - 10 October 2017

NSW Greens resources spokesman Jeremy Buckingham warned that the Berejiklian Government was gutting protections for the quality of Sydney’s drinking water with legislation introduced into parliament today ditching the ‘neutral and beneficial’ test for all types of development that are an extension to existing developments in the entire catchment area.  The Sydney Drinking Water Catchment extends from the Snowy Mountains to Lithgow and from Crookwell to the Illawarra.

The Environmental Planning and Assessment Amendment (Sydney’s Drinking Water Catchment) Bill 2011 has two parts.  Schedule 1 validates the development consent for the Springvale coal mine (that the Court of Appeal found was invalid because it polluted the water catchment).  Schedule 2 ditches the test that extensions to existing developments (not just mines) must be either ‘neutral or beneficial’ for water quality in the catchment.

Jeremy Buckingham NSW Greens energy and resources spokesman said:

“The Berejiklian Government is using the confected crisis of Mt Piper power station’s coal supply to sneak through laws that gut protections for the quality of Sydney’s drinking water supply.

“The legislation goes far beyond the issue of the Springvale coal mine and allows any extensions to existing developments in the whole Sydney Drinking Water Catchment to avoid the ‘neutral or beneficial’ test designed to improve the quality of Sydney’s drinking water.

“The Greens agree with the Court of Appeal that the ‘neutral or beneficial’ test should mean that any development in the catchment area should not pollute Sydney’s drinking water.

“The Sydney Drinking Water Catchment is a huge area of NSW, stretching from the Snowy Mountains to the Blue Mountains, from Crookwell to the Illawarra.  This change will apply to all types of existing developments, whether they are a mine, a piggery, an abattoir, a chicken farm, or a housing development.

“A perverse outcome of the legislation is that it will penalise new environmentally sensitive development over older more polluting developments.  New developments will be held to a much higher standard than the extension of existing developments.

“It freezes in time poor levels of pollution control at the expense of Sydney’s drinking water quality. It guts the principle that development in the catchment area should be either neutral or beneficial for water quality.”

Coal seam gas has no social licence in NSW

MEDIA RELEASE - 26 September 2017

NSW Greens resources spokesman Jeremy Buckingham rebuffed Prime Minister Turnbull’s call for the Narrabri coal seam gas project to be approved, saying that the industry did not have a social licence and even if it was approved it would not solve a gas crisis created by policy failure to protect the domestic gas market from unregulated exports.

“For years now the citizens of NSW have made it clear that coal seam gas does not have a social licence to operate and political parties of all persuasions have listened to this message to varying degrees,” said Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham.

“This is a crisis forged by greedy multinational oil and gas companies, with successive Labor and Liberal-National governments failing to properly regulate gas exports despite repeated warnings from the manufacturing industry, unions and the Greens.

“Even if the Narrabri gas project was approved tomorrow, it will face fierce opposition and direct action from concerned farmers and others, it will be several years before the gas will hit the market, and the relatively small amount of gas will have no impact on the international gas price which is now dominating the domestic market.

“Why do Australian politicians cower before the idea of sovereign risk?  This is a construct of the big corporations and their lobbyists with the result that multinationals feel they can walk all over Australian interests with virtual impunity.

“The concept of sovereign risk should not stop governments acting in the national interest, especially when the risk to the manufacturing sector impacts on far more jobs than are in LNG exports.

“The pursuit of coal seam gas for export as LNG has been a monumental policy failure and has had catastrophic consequences for the environment and our economy.  Now households and businesses are paying the price with rising energy costs and job losses in other sectors of the economy,” he said.

Greens accuse Santos of CSG production by stealth

MEDIA RELEASE - 25 July 2017

NSW Greens energy and resources spokesman Jeremy Buckingham accused the NSW Government of allowing coal seam gas production by stealth at the Narrabri gas project after it approved an extension of the Wilga Park gas-fired power station CSG utilisation project on 14 July 2017.

The Department of Planning has approved Santos supplying coal seam gas to power the 12 megawatt generator from their existing gas wells in the Pilliga Forest for an addition three years, despite the Department putting a specific three year sunset clause on the original approve in 2014 as a “reasonable period” for genuine assessment purposes.

“This is coal seam gas production by stealth.  Santos have already had three years to assess the flow of gas, so this extension is unnecessary and is about Santos generating income from gas production,” said Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham.

“When this was approved in 2014, the Department inserted a specific condition that limited the assessment period to three years and noted that this was a reasonable period to conclude assessment.

“Given Santos has already submitted an extremely detailed Environmental Assessment for their 850 coal seam gas well Narrabri Project, this additional assessment period is not necessary and is clearly production of CSG by stealth.

“The Greens oppose coal seam gas as unnecessary, unwanted and unsafe.  We do not need a new fossil fuel in an age of climate change and competitive renewable energy technologies.

“Energy and Resources Minister Don Harwin should clarify whether Santos is genuinely using the Wilga Park power station for assessment, or whether this is in fact production?”

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