Government & Rio Tinto should respect Supreme Court’s decision
Govt bungles aquifer interference policy on Santos’ giant coal seam gas project
Ground water contaminated with uranium 20x limit & other poisonous elements – game over for coal seam gas
Fenton tour website
96.6% of NSW still open for fracking
Coal mine vertical

Coal Mining, Coal Seam Gas, CSG, Media, Mining

Minister should suspend all mining arbitrations after admission the system is broken

15 April 2014

MEDIA RELEASE - 15 April 2014

Coal mine verticalThe Greens NSW spokesperson mining Jeremy Buckingham today welcomed the NSW Governments announcement of an independent review into mining arbitration arrangements and called on the Resources and Energy Minister to suspend all ongoing arbitrations until the review and the government’s response is concluded.

“This is an admission by the government that the current mining arbitration system is broken and the Minister must immediately suspend all ongoing arbitrations until the review and the government’s response is concluded” said Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham.

“The Greens have been calling for comprehensive reform of arbitration for some time and welcome this announcement.

“The guiding principle for the review must be that when it comes to land access arrangements, landholders and the environment must be in no worse off condition as a result of the exploration and mining.

“The cost and risk of land access, arbitration and exploration must also be borne wholly by the mining companies.

“We must also remember that this review is no more than tinkering at the edges and that a fair and proper process will not be in place until the government stands up to the mining lobbyists and enshrines in legislation the right of landholders to say no to mining on their land.”

Contact: Jack Gough – 9230 2470 or 0427 713 101

mine cut

Coal Mining, Coal Seam Gas, Media

Time to clean up the mining industry’s community consultative committees

11 April 2014

MEDIA RELEASE - 11 April 2014

mine cut

The Greens NSW spokesperson on mining, Jeremy Buckingham, today called on the government to reform the regulations around mining community consultative committees (CCC) after it was revealed that one woman, Margaret Macdonald-Hill was employed as the independent chair of 15 different CCCs by seven different mining companies and that her payments have not been disclosed.

Gary West, former Nationals MP, former mining minister and current Planning Assessment Commission (PAC) member and Northern Joint Regional Planning Panel (JRPP) member also chairs the Integra Vale CCC, the Ulan coal CCC, Moorlaben coal CCC, and the BHP Caroona CCC for undisclosed sums.

The Department of Planning Guidelines for CCCs make it clear that payments to the ‘independent chair’ should be disclosed on the website:

“If such fees or expenses are paid, then the company should indicate that this is occurring on the company’s website, so that the broader community remains fully informed.”

“I cannot find a single instance where a resource company has publicly declared the payments to the ‘independent chair’ of their CCC.  These companies are in breach of the planning department’s rules,” said Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham.

“Undeclared payments directly from the mining company undermine the independence of the chair and the community’s confidence in the CCC.  The current system means that the community often perceives the ‘independent chair’ as simply a stooge of the mining company.

“The regulations should be changed so that the ‘independent chair’ is appointed and paid by the government, not by the mining companies.   The chair’s payment should be publicly disclosed by the government.

“The Greens want reform of the CCCs because communities have lost all faith in them and see them more as a facade on consultation that simply does the companies bidding and ties up the community.

“It’s an outrageous conflict of interest that former Nationals MP Gary West can be paid by coal companies to chair CCCs, and then also have a role as a decision maker with the PAC and JRPP.  Gary West is notoriously pro-coal and was on the PAC that approved the controversial Maules Creek coal mine.

“The government must clean up with part of the mining sector.  The people of NSW are sick of corruption and cronyism.  The Greens will continue our push for clean politics,” he said.

Contact: Max Phillips – 9230 2202 or 0419 444 916

Famrer locks on

Blog, Coal Seam Gas

Santos tell gas conference what they really think

08 April 2014

Colin-Barnett

WA Premier Colin Barnett

Proceedings at the 2014 APPEA (Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association) conference have provided some insights into what the gas industry really thinks. 

But first it was refreshing to see Western Australian Liberal Premier Colin Barnett give the gas and oil executives a slap of reality.  Criticising the gas industry for running a disastrous PR campaign (hello Crosby Textor), the Premier told the audience:

“I put it to you, it’s a hard narrative to sell to the community or a government that we are going to increase production of gas and we are going to export it and in the meantime domestic gas supplies might be diminished and the domestic price will go up.

I’m a politician, I’m pretty good at selling a story. I find that one a tough one to sell.  You can’t say to people gas production is going up and by the way your supplies are going down and the price is going up.”

Barnett is spot on.  The gas industry is trying to sell us a  pup and the population isn’t buying.  As I wrote in the Daily Telegraph last week, gas exports from the east coast are not in the national interest.

Santos vice-president for eastern Australia also provided some insights into what the gas giant really thinks.

On the contamination of an aquifer with heavy metals such as arsenic, lead and boron, as well as uranium 20x drinking water limits, Mr Baulderstone opined:

“the claims of the green groups were exaggerated, and that the spills involved “minor” spills of “salty water” with no ­environmental impact. “These are not environmental incidents, they are simply processing issues,”

Famrer locks on

A farmer locks on to a ‘dragon’ buried underground.

It’s incredible that Santos dismisses contamination of an aquifer with heavy metals such as uranium as “processing issues”.  Does this mean spills and leaks and contamination of water is just part of the process of coal seam gas?

Baulderstone also dismissed the ongoing blockades of drilling in the Pilliga forest where scores of local people including farmers have physically locked themselves onto drilling and other equipment to slow down Santos’ operations and demonstrate community opposition.  He said:

“What is happening is that the green groups are preventing the farmers’ rights to say yes,”

Mr Baulderstone must have missed the declaration from the people of Coonamble and the Liverpool Plains that they want to be gasfield free.  He must also have missed numerous farmers locking on to drilling equipment over the past few months and the Narrabri Resolution against coal seam gas that was passed by 600 people in Narrabri’s Crossing Theatre in February.

Finally Mr Baulderstone ramps up the scare campaign, declaring:

“It is not a matter of whether this gas will continue; it has to continue ­otherwise Australia turns into a third-world country. We’ve got to get over this issue.”

Actually Mr Baulderstone, Australia will have a better future if we protect our land and water and transform our energy system to clean renewable energy.  We do not need scare campaigns, a disregard for pollution incidents and the dismissal of the very genuine and deeply held concerns of the community.

Jeremy & pipeline

Coal Seam Gas, CSG, Media, Mining

Unlimited gas export not in national interest

03 April 2014

Jeremy & pipelineARE you willing to pay more on your gas bill to boost the profits of foreign companies? That’s what the gas industry wants you to do and it is why they are running a scare campaign on gas supply and price.

These companies want to export conventional gas from Bass Strait and South Australia, that has served Australia for decades, and replace it with toxic coal seam gas that will ­destroy farm lands and our precious water. They warn that NSW is running out of gas, while at the same time they prepare to export record volumes of gas to China, Japan and Korea. There is plenty of gas but they prefer to sell it to big customers in Asia at high prices, than to supply Australian homes and businesses.

The export consortiums are largely foreign owned. PetroChina, Petronas (Malaysia), Kogas (Korea), British Gas, Shell (Netherlands), Total (France), ConocoPhillips (USA), Sinopec (China) are all large shareholders in the gas export terminals being built in Queensland.

It’s a double whammy as gas is ­diverted to export and high prices impact on manufacturing and households. Brick, glass, steel, chemicals, fertiliser and many other manufacturing processes use gas.

Rising prices and supply uncertainty means an estimated 100,000 jobs, many of them in western Sydney, and $28 billion in economic ­activity is at risk because of the greed of the gas exporters.

Tony Abbott and Barry O’Farrell must investigate policies to protect Australia’s national interest from the damage caused by unrestricted gas exports.

Governments are currently putting corporate profit ahead of ensuring Australian gas is made available for Australian use and jobs.

Why should you pay more or anyone lose their job, simply ­because governments and big companies want to export our gas?

Other countries place restrictions on gas exports. The US government requires proof that there is not a domestic use and benefit for the gas before they will permit export. Canada, Oman, Israel and Egypt all have similar national interest tests.

Australia has no national interest test and Australian jobs and gas users are being trampled upon by these largely foreign-owned export consortiums.

Nor should farmers have their land turned into toxic coal seam gas fields simply to meet the shortfall in the rush to export gas, when there is plenty of conventional gas in Bass Strait and South Australia.

The Greens are proud to stand with farmers to protect land, water and communities from the threat of coal seam gas. Gas exporter Santos was recently fined for poisoning ground water with uranium, arsenic, lead and other toxic heavy metals at its NSW coal seam gas operations.

Liberal politicians close to the gas industry have attacked the Greens for joining with farmers in this fight. We won’t back down from our ­opposition to coal seam gas and our determination to protect jobs, agriculture, manufacturing and the ­national interest.

Australia’s future should be based on clean energy, clean water and clean politics. Coal seam gas has no place in that future.

Jeremy Buckingham is a NSW Greens MP and mining spokesperson. He lives in Orange.

This article first appeared in the Daily Telegraph on 03/04/2014 and is available here: http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/opinion/unlimited-gas-export-not-in-national-interest/story-fni0cwl5-1226873022518

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