The new federal Environment Minister has failed his first test on coal seam gas by waving through Santos’ proposal to drill CSG exploration wells in the Pilliga forest in New South Wales.
“It’s clear the Abbott Government is charging full steam ahead with its gas-at-all-costs approach at the expense or our land, water and communities,” Senator Larissa Waters, Australian Greens mining spokesperson, said.
“Minister Hunt has decided Santos’ CSG exploration drilling and associated clearing does not require federal assessment, despite clear threats to groundwater and impacts on threatened species.
“The notion that punching holes through an aquifer to ‘explore’ for coal seam gas is any less damaging than punching holes through an aquifer to ‘extract’ coal seam gas is pure nonsense, and is typical CSG industry spin which Minister Hunt has bought.
“Minister Hunt should have taken a closer look at this dangerous proposal and required federal assessment of its impacts, including applying the new water trigger to protect these aquifers which recharge the Great Artesian Basin.
“The Minister has left himself wide open to challenge by the community in the courts. Our environmental laws are there to protect areas of significant environmental value, not to be ignored when it doesn’t suit the big mining companies,” Senator Waters said.