Gas alarm

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Gas alarm

THE prospect of coal seam gas (CSG) mining in South Gippsland appears closer than ever. In a new report, Peter Reith, chairman of the Victorian Government’s taskforce on the eastern gas market, has cited the need to develop onshore gas reserves to ensure adequate supply, competitive pricing and the security of manufacturing. Most of the region, including Leongatha, Mirboo North, Inverloch and Wonthaggi, is covered by exploration licences. Mr Reith handed his report to the government on Friday. On his website, Mr Reith labelled CSG opposition as “scare campaigns” that had “been allowed to run for far too long and will have adverse repercussions for living standards and jobs”. Mr Reith said from next year, Queensland liquid natural gas export plants may not be able to acquire enough natural gas from their new gas fields. “In that case, they will source gas from sources otherwise slated for domestic use, thereby pushing up the price,” he said. “In anticipation, prices are already rising. There is little reliable information on what the exact impact might be but at worst there could be big price increases for residential users, a shortage of gas for businesses, and even business closures and job losses.” But Phil Piper of Coal and Coal Seam Gas Mirboo North doubted Mr Reith’s claims of a gas shortage, given the recent development of the Kipper Tuna Turrum field in Bass Strait, as well as other reserves. “So, we have several decades worth of offshore gas – plenty of time for us to transition from fossil fuels to alternative energy sources,” he said. “We would hope that our government will stand firm against the huge pressure placed, even by its own advisers, upon it and not cave in. Do what a government should do and that is to represent the wishes of the people.” Deputy Premier and Gippsland South MLA Peter Ryan said greater understanding of the issues posed by any potential CSG industry was needed before decisions were made. “Victoria is closely watching developments in NSW and Queensland while it considers its position,” he said. “The Victorian Coalition Government put a ban on new exploration licences, banned the use of BTEX fracking chemicals and also put a hold on fracking itself. “Victoria does not have a coal seam gas industry and still no confirmed commercial reserves. “There is no way the Coalition Government will put at risk the water aquifers, the agricultural production and the liveability that are the hallmarks of Gippsland.”

Lock the Gate Victoria co-ordinator Ursula Alquier said, “We know from our work with regional communities that any proposal to expand coal or unconventional gas operations will be deeply unpopular. The Coalition ignores this strong community concern at its peril.”
Mr Reith said he hoped the State Government would “make a positive decision on the future of the gas industry sometime before Christmas”.
“The only barrier is politics. In my opinion, in order to secure existing jobs and to provide the prospect of more jobs, both Victoria and New South Wales cannot afford to delay,” he said.
“Victorians have a choice; they can close their eyes to the future or they can follow in the steps of great Victorians like John Monash and Henry Bolte and strive for the investments and jobs that could be the destiny of our state.”
Mr Reith urged the State Government to engage in public debate, otherwise “scare campaigns and green activists fill the vacuum”.
“And then the public debate is soon mired in myriad false claims, partly because government has not ensured the public is fairly informed and because some activists have other political agendas,” he said.
“Sadly, instead of promoting increased supply of gas by constructively responding to genuine issues, decisions taken in Victoria with its moratoriums and NSW with various policies have encouraged the green activists. This situation will have to change.”
Mr Reith said gas had lower emissions than brown coal and was essential to supplementing wind power.
Mr Reith said fracking was a safe method of extracting CSG and said in Gippsland, fracking was not likely to be needed on the scale now underway in Queensland.
“There is virtually no country in the world that bans fracking because there is no reason to do so. Fracking was invented in the late 1940s; more and more firms are turning to green fracking which is another innovation from the gas industry,” he said.
Shadow Minister for Energy Lily D’Ambrosio said the Reith report was a failure in public consultation.
“Concerns have been raised that the taskforce assisting Mr Reith was heavily weighted towards industry whilst failing to adequately address the scientific and environmental impact issues around coal seam gas mining,” she said.
“It is important that any review into unconventional mining methods engage appropriately with farmers, local councils, regional communities and environment groups so that concerns can be addressed.
“Peter Reith’s ‘quick and dirty’ slapdash review has cost the Victorian taxpayer a bill of over two thousand dollars a day with many questions still left unanswered.
“The Napthine Government’s review has failed to rule out that fracking would not put at risk the state’s water supplies, food production and tourism industries.”
Documents obtained by the Opposition under Freedom of Information (FOI) of agendas and meeting minutes of the taskforce show almost all consultations undertaken by Mr Reith to be with the energy industry, whilst there is no documented evidence of any local community consultation.
Ms D’Ambrosio said the Opposition had requested a briefing with the Minister for Energy, Nicholas Kotsiras and Mr Reith during the review process, which was denied.

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Posted by on Nov 5 2013. Filed under Featured, News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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