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Greens welcome Independent’s breakthrough on coal seam gas

21 November 2011 - The Australian Greens today welcomed the Government's move to science-based policy regarding coal seam gas following its agreement with the Independents on the Mineral Resources Rent Tax, with a new $150 million committee to provide independent expert scientific advice on the long-term impacts of coal seam gas (CSG) mining.

"For the many Australian communities deeply concerned about the runaway CSG industry, it's good news that the Government will now establish this independent committee and require the states to take into account the committee’s advice," Greens mining spokesperson Senator Larissa Waters said.

 

"This is positive news for the southern states, but it's a great shame for Queensland that this science wasn't done before sinking thousands of CSG wells across Queensland's prime agricultural land.

 

"It's great that an independent committee will provide scientific advice on CSG to the states, but this body doesn't have the power to ensure that the states are compelled to listen to that advice - that's why we still need the federal Government to play a role in protecting water from coal seam gas mining.

 

"The committee will provide advice to the federal Government as well, but without the powers conferred by my new water bill to consider the impacts of CSG on water resources, the Government would be unable to act on that advice.

 

"It's ridiculous that the federal Environment Minister, when considering the impacts of major coal seam gas projects on the environment, is not allowed to consider the impacts on water, one of our most rare and valuable national assets. My bill would empower the Minister to consider the significant water impacts of mining when deciding whether to approve, refuse or condition mining projects.

 

"We support the Government backing Tony Windsor's call for bioregional assessments to assess the cumulative impacts of coal seam gas on the ecology of an entire region, although it's not clear who will undertake those assessments, or how they will impact on the CSG decisions made by state or federal governments.

 

"But it makes a mockery of that bioregional assessment if coal seam gas exploration and production is allowed to continue while the assessment is carried out.

 

“The positive elements of this package are still sadly at least twelve months off, even if the states agree to them - another twelve months in which CSG will continue to cause unknown damage to our land, our environment and our water resources.

 

"The next logical step for the Government is to pass my bill and move immediately to impose the moratorium on coal seam gas that Australian communities have been calling for, until their new science-based framework for CSG mining has been established, and the bioregional assessments completed."

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