On November 9 the NSW Labor Party announced a reversal of its policy on coal seam gas (CSG). They’re now supporting a moratorium on all CSG exploration and an independent scientific inquiry. Opposition Leader John Roberson said “Until there is a scientific consensus that coal seam gas mining will not damage aquifers and ground water systems – we need to hit the pause button”.
While every CSG licence in NSW was granted by the previous Labor Government, Stop CSG Illawarra welcomes the back flip. Our campaign set out to target all MPs, and Labor’s announcement marks a reversal of the position of 32 upper and lower house Members.
We also recognise the role that Ryan Park – local Labor MP- and the Thirroul and Woonona-Bulli branches of the Party played in the policy change.
Of course, all the risks posed by CSG exploration also apply to production. It’s logically inconsistent that Robertson stated, “we need to put the brakes on the coal seam gas industry now – before it’s too late” but that Labor’s support for a moratorium only applies to exploration projects. Labor’s policy should shift further still, to support a moratorium on all CSG projects until the full impacts are known.
There is now more than enough evidence that CSG mining brings problems, including threats to water systems and supplies, leaking methane, health impacts, land clearing and industrialisation and causing earthquakes and subsidence. This evidence shows the need for an immediate moratorium on all CSG projects and a royal commission into the full impacts of the industry.
A ban on fracking is also needed. No practice that fractures underground systems, can cause earthquakes and involves the direct contamination of large quantities of fresh water, much of which escapes into the environment, should be legal.