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CSG WATER RESOURCES IMPACTS – FEDERAL EXPERT PANEL ?

The EPBC ACT 1999 , is designed to investigate the likelyhood of a project creating a significant impact on an MNES ( matter of national ecological signficance ). Surface and groundwater in Queenland are not as yet,  listed as MNES .

The federal Minister Tony Bourke has in his infinite wisdom , appointed an expert panel to look at any potential impacts to any MNES from the projects he has already approved with conditions .

Federal environment minister, the Hon Tony Burke MP, has approved the appointment of an expert panel to advise him on coal seam gas water management, for Queensland coal seam gas projects approved and conditioned under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.Those projects include the Queensland Curtis LNG project, the Santos Gladstone LNG project, and the Australia Pacific LNG project. The expert panel will provide advice on the adequacy of water management plans which the companies must submit under the conditions of approval.
The members of the expert panel are:

  • Professor Paul Greenfield AO, Vice Chancellor, University of Queensland
  • Professor Chris Moran, Director, Sustainable Minerals Institute, University of Queensland
  • Dr Richard Cresswell, Sinclair Knight Merz
  • Ms Jane Coram, Geoscience Australia
  • Associate Professor Heather Chapman, Griffith University.
Several major gas/petroleum companies are pursuing projects to extract CSG from the Bowen and Surat Basins in Queensland, and other CSG producing areas in NSW. The Queensland projects would feed export-oriented LNG plants in the Gladstone area, the majority on Curtis Island off the coast opposite Gladstone. The projects involve significant capital expenditure and would operate over a long period……There are uncertainties of groundwater and surface water impacts from the extraction of significant amounts of CSG water including the risk of impacts to aquifers and groundwater quality which may lead to impacts on matters of national environmental significance protected under the EPBC Act.

expert-panel-tor

“There are uncertainties of groundwater and surface water impacts from the extraction of significant amounts of CSG water including the risk of impacts to aquifers and groundwater quality which may lead to impacts on matters of national environmental significance protected under the EPBC Act.”

This wording is very interesting , it would require the Minister to take a ‘ broad view’ of the decisions he has already made as defined in the Nathan Dam case , http://www.qccqld.org.au/docs/History/Nathan_Dam_Case_Summary.pdf  , http://www.envlaw.com.au/nathandam6.pdf, http://www.claytonutz.com/publications/newsletters/environment_and_planning_insights/20070327/redefining_impact_under_the_epbc_act-clear_as_mud.page

If the panel recommends such an action , and the EPBC ACT provisions are altered to include a definition that surface and groundwater  resources, are listed as MNES ,   it is highly likely that the proponents will invest $B in fighting any such action by the federal minister , and this action would be supported by the Queensland government , whoever that turns out to be post the election in March 2012 .

Nice work Tony , the horse has bolted , you can lead the CSG powered horses to water , but can you make them drink it ? what a can of worms you have opened up , as if Anna and Sterling and or ‘Can do’ are going to let that happen , Traveston revisited ? , i doubt it .

If the panel makes a recommendation to review the decisons you made  , IE apply the ‘Keifel Methodology’ , because of  ‘significant external impacts ‘   to MNES  arising from projects ,   will you launch the legal action in the federal court to challenge your own decisions ?

The scenario would be that NFP community groups and or the BIG 3  , WWF ,  ACF and Green peace , would need to take that step , Al La Nathan Dam revisited .

Strap yourself in Minister , its going to be a bumpy ride in 2012 for your management of the EPBC ACT 1999 desired outcomes , because you have already given precedence  to the desired economic outcomes of CSG over the ACT .

HAPPY NEW YEAR .

A word of warning from an American farmer

http://theland.farmonline.com.au/news/nationalrural/agribusiness-and-general/general/csg-headache-on-the-powder-river/2480726.aspx

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