Today Chris Hartcher, the NSW Minister for Resources and Energy, announced a temporary moratorium on coal seam gas (CSG) exploration and mining in Sydney’s drinking water catchment ‘Special Areas’.
The hold will be in place until the outcome of the NSW Chief Scientist and Engineer’s review of CSG activities – currently expected in late 2014. It’s a welcome announcement and a win for the campaign – offering temporary protection – but it doesn’t change the fact that Barry O’Farrell must keep the promise he made before election:
“The next Liberal/National Government will ensure that mining cannot occur… in any water catchment area, and will ensure that mining leases and mining exploration permits reflect that common sense; no ifs, no buts, a guarantee.”
The community expects the Coalition to vote for legislation currently in the NSW Lower House to permanently ban CSG mining in Special Areas of the Sydney drinking water catchment. This moratorium doesn’t let the Premier off the hook.
We demand more than a delay. The review of CSG activities in NSW cannot become an excuse to develop CSG in our drinking water catchments. It is framed by terms of reference [PDF] that focus on how to develop the industry, not if or under what conditions development is safe.
The legislation must change, and our communities will fight until it does. We want the land in NSW that supplies our drinking water protected. CSG exploration and mining always involves unearthing water that is high in salt and methane, and can contain toxic and radioactive compounds and heavy metals. It involves methane leaks and industrial development that’s incompatible with our drinking water catchments.
A permanent ban on CSG in drinking water catchment areas is simply common sense. Find out more at the Stop CSG Water Catchments website and get involved in the campaign to save OUR water!