Who regulates the regulators?
Dr Gavin Mudd, an environmental engineer at Monash University, digs into the trend towards regulatory capture, a phenomenon that allows de facto self regulation for many companies such as miners. Regulatory capture occurs when the regulators lose their independence and their scientific objectivities when regulating a particular industry as a result of moving too close to the industries.
It is the same attitude and problem in many fields, including the mining industry, the aviation industry to the financial sector. In some circumstances, there is a revolving door between personnel in the industry, industry consultants and the regulatory body, with scientific objectivity being lost in the process.
An example from coal seam gas mining comes from the annual environmental monitoring report (which is available on line) of one CSG project in NSW. The 50 page report includes only two small paragraphs about groundwater monitoring, that state that a technical assessment was done predicting there would be no impact on groundwater and so they do not monitor groundwater and therefore there is no impact.
Good science would require good evidence to back up such claims.
Here the ‘technical assessment’ is not even cited.
Worse, to not monitor groundwater and then claim this is no evidence of impact, smacks of ‘no data, no problem’.
Dr Mudd sees this as an example of where the regulators have been too weak and highlights their loss of due diligence and critical assessment.
Read (or listen to) the full interview: