News from DEA’s Unconventional Gas Working Group:
So often our work feels like banging our heads against a brick wall, and it can be hard to see progress. However over time we really do see results.
Recently we have seen significant improvements in protection from inappropriate coal seam gas (CSG) development in NSW. The NSW government is making major changes to CSG regulation, including a 2km exclusion zone for residential areas. This effectively prevents large scale expansion of CSG into the Sydney Metropolitan area.
The CSG company Metgasco, has just announced it is suspending all exploration and production in the Northern Rivers area of NSW, causing widespread celebration in the community. They cited regulatory uncertainty and blamed the State government’s recent CSG exclusion zone for residential areas and agricultural infrastructure.
Yesterday, Environment Minister Tony Burke announced he will introduce amendments to the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 that will require federal assessment and approval of coal seam gas and large coal mining developments which have a significant impact on a water resource.
The importance of this cannot be underestimated. At a time when the federal government has been divesting environmental responsibilities to the states under pressure from states and industry, this proposal will establish some federal control over issues handled poorly by the states. Rivers and aquifers do not recognise state boundaries. Water is an essential resource for health for all Australians.
These changes in the face of powerful vested interests, have been brought about by people power – people from all walks of life and many organisations speaking up and acting to protect the health and beauty of their environment for all generations.
We believe DEA has played an important role in this, by constantly highlighting health concerns to government and the public and advocating for greater protections. We have undertaken meticulous research, written multiple articles and letters, given presentations to communities and government panels, lobbied politicians and appeared before government inquiries.
There is still much to be done to achieve health protection and environmental justice. But make no mistake: collectively we are a force to be reckoned with! So thanks to all DEA members for supporting our endeavours- whether just through being members or researching, writing, presenting, lobbying etc. Every day we are helping to make a difference- protecting health through care of the environment!