North Queensland Register - 29.9.2011
COAL seam gas was once regarded as a major hazard to coal miners because of the risk of explosion. Today it’s become a major hazard to graziers and farmers as the rush by mining companies encroaches upon the very land they are trying to make a living out of.
Governments throughout Australia are set to make billions of dollars in royalties from the rush and appear to be turning a blind eye to the possibility of major ecological damage caused by the fracking process used to extract the gas. The process reportedly is already banned in China.
After spending millions of dollars to cap hundreds of free-flowing bores tapped into the Great Artesian Basin and prevent salt contamination of the surface soil, the government now have given the CSG miners the right to pump unlimited supplies from this very source. The contradiction – and some say hypocrisy of the act – has not gone unnoticed by farmers who are constantly monitoring and controlling the salinity levels of their soils.
In a statement released by Senator Barnaby Joyce a review by the National Water Commission has found that the regulation of coal seam gas developments is not being fully integrated into water planning arrangements.
The commission notes that while the NSW Government has introduced reforms which require coal seam gas developments to obtain water licenses, Queensland’s arrangements “remain outside water planning and management frameworks.”
The commission has found that the coal seam gas industry could extract around 300 GL per year from groundwater systems over the next 25 years, compared to the 540 GL per year currently extracted from the Great Artesian Basin.
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