Lock the Gate Northern Rivers (LTG-NR) has congratulated Page MP Janelle Saffin for her timely comments in parliament this week about the dangers of coal-seam gas mining.
Ms Saffin took the opportunity on Monday evening to address parliament about the issue, focusing largely on the problems associated with produced water and the likely damage to life-giving aquifers.
In the short five-minute speech she also reiterated her demands for a moratorium over CSG exploration and exploitation until a federal government body, the Independent Expert Scientific Committee on CSG and Large Coal Mining Developments, is able to make an assessment of the situation.
LTG spokesperson Boudicca Cerese said, ‘Janelle has had the courage to speak out when so many of our other representatives, particularly state politicians, have failed us. Unconventional gas mining is of increasing relevance to the federal government and it’s heartening to see a local politician listening to the people.’
The speech follows hot on the heels of her open attack on resources minister Martin Ferguson last week after he criticised Southern Cross University research showing high methane levels in CSG fields near Tara, Queensland.
She accused him of ‘jumping on a bandwagon’ and told him to ‘keep your nose out of our business’.
The MP told Parliament on Monday that as far back as 2010, the National Water Commission produced a document titled ‘The coal-seam gas and water challenge’ that raised some frightening issues about the industry.
She said the report stated, ‘extracting large volumes of low-quality water will impact on connected surface and groundwater systems, some of which may already be fully or over allocated, including the Great Artesian Basin and the Murray-Darling Basin.
‘Impacts on other water users and the environment may occur due to the dramatic depressurisation of the coal seam…
‘The production of large volumes of treated wastewater, if released to surface-water systems, could alter natural flow patterns and have significant impacts on water quality, and river and wetland health. There is an associated risk that, if the water is overly treated, “clean water” pollution of naturally turbid systems may occur.’
She said the report concluded that ‘the consequences of not managing the water risks and uncertainties associated with the economic benefits of CSG are substantial’.
She reiterated her position that until the independent scientific committee is in a position to report on its investigations, ‘my view is there should be no coal-seam gas mining activity at all on the land’.
She concluded by saying the federal government was looking into the methods currently used to estimate methane emissions and that fugitive emissions would be taken into account in the federal government’s carbon scheme.
Ms Cerese said, ‘recent revelations of massive methane leakages from gasfields means that there will be major carbon tax implications for CSG industries’.