Six Degrees considers the Coal Seam Gas (CSG) industry to have serious environmental and health impacts that need to be understood and addressed by State Government before any further decisions are taken to proceed with the full development of current coal seam basins and associated infrastructure.
We advocate for robust investigation into the potential impacts on the ecosystem services provided by agricultural land, on human health, on environmental toxicology, and especially about the potential degradation of groundwater systems, including the Great Artesian Basin - one of the few reliable sources of fresh water for inland Australia.
Six Degrees considers that the current policies and management arrangements of the Queensland State Government are lagging significantly behind industry developments in this area.
As a consequence, CSG companies are being permitted to effectively carry out an uncontrolled experiment on the Queensland environment with potentially catastrophic consequences.
The Commonwealth Minister for the Environment Protection has been forced to intervene and call for a review of the impacts of two Queensland coal seam gas projects on our water supplies and landscapes, and their potential to contaminate the Great Artesian Basin, one of the only reliable sources of fresh water in inland Australia.
The unseemly haste with which the Bligh Government has sought to fast-track approvals of controversial coal seam gas projects in the Surat Basin has caught up with them.
The Queensland Government has repeatedly referred to its coal seam gas feasibility study as its insurance be sure that the consequences of coal seam gas extraction do not lead to irreversible environmental damage, particularly on groundwater supplies and the potential contamination of the Great Artesian Basin, one of the only reliable sources of fresh water in inland Australia.
The problem is that its study, entitled "The Coal Seam Gas Water Feasibility Study" is not due for completion until June 2012 - long after much of the extractive activity has been approved and any damage is likely to have already occurred.
A fact sheet compiled by three expert agronomists from Dalby in Queensland's Darling Downs warns of how coal seam gas extraction will deplete underground irrigation water supplies, contaminate agricultural land, destroy long term food production and town water supplies. Their review sets out clearly the incompatibility of Coal Seam Gas and intensive farming.
We have been closely following the performance of the LNP in the Queensland Parliament, as they continue to put pressure on the Government over unanswered questions on the coal seam gas expansion in the Darling Downs. A number of questions posed by Member for Warrego, Mr Howard Hobbs, are due for reply this week, relating to the siting of gas wells, the impact on land values and the region's financial security.
Earlier this week, the Basin Sustainability Alliance hosted a seminar featuring groundwater engineer and researcher Colin Hazel speaking about what he sees as the possible impacts of gas extraction on the Great Artesian Basin.
Mining coal has long been perceived as the ‘engine room’ of Queensland’s economy and the exploitation of our great mineral wealth is supported by Governments of all persuasions. For politicians, the possibility of transitioning Queensland to be less dependent on coal is considered a fanciful idea at best. Despite international commitments to limit greenhouse gas emissions as well as a clear need to protect biodiversity and food security, the Queensland coal industry is undergoing unprecedented expansion.
Friends of the Earth Australia has denounced the development of two new coal export terminals near Bowen in North Queensland, insisting the expansion of Queensland's biggest contributor to climate change must come to an end.
Steve Austin from 612 ABC Radio interviewed Drew Hutton on the 19th April on the impact of 40,000 proposed coal seam gas wells across rural Queensland. Download the interview here.
Rising Tide activists have blockaded the first ship to arrive at Newcastle's new third coal export terminal, leading to four arrests.