Unconventional Gas Senate Inquiry Submission Guide

Published: February 11, 2016

HAVE YOUR SAY! Submit to the Senate Inquiry on Unconventional Gas Mining in Australia. THE CLOSING DATE FOR SUBMISSIONS IS 14th March 2016.

The Senate Select Committee is conducting a review of unconventional gas mining in Australia with a focus on ‘The adequacy of Australia‘s legislative, regulatory and policy framework for unconventional gas mining including coal seam gas (CSG) and shale gas mining…

This is an historic opportunity to get a national spotlight on the impacts of unconventional gas mining on human health, food production and the environment.

More information on the review, including the full Terms of Reference, can be found here. Public input into the review can be made via email to gasmining.sen@aph.gov.au or at this online submission portal.

THE CLOSING DATE FOR SUBMISSIONS IS 14th March 2016.

The key areas to address in your submission are:

  1.     Who you are, why you are making a submission to the Inquiry and what your experience is of the Unconventional Gas Industry.
  2.     Detail any information you may have relating to any or all of the items set out in the Terms of Reference (see link above or full Terms of Reference below). We’ve outlined some key points addressing the terms of reference that you may wish to include below.
  3.     Provide your name, address and contact details and mark your submission “CONFIDENTIAL” if you do not wish it to be made public.

We encourage you to include some of the following points.

  1. Outline the health, social, agricultural, environmental etc. impacts of Unconventional Gas mining, for example:

-          Water and chemical use and wastewater production from Unconventional Gas mining places Australia’s vital water resources at risk from contamination and depletion. (You may wish to include more detail on these impacts from Lock the Gate  referenced fact sheets).

-          Unconventional gas requires large scale dewatering of aquifers, impacting on hydrology and water availability and introducing large volumes of often saline groundwater to surface water systems.

-          Communities living near gasfields in Queensland and the USA have reported serious health effects following the commencement of unconventional gas operations. These conditions include respiratory ailments, nose throat and eye irritations, and neurological illnesses. (More detailed information on health impacts can be found in the Compendium of Fracking Risks and the New York Public Health Review of Fracking.)

-          Landholders and Traditional Owners don’t have the right to refuse access to mining companies in most Australian jurisdiction. This has created an unbalanced and socially destructive dynamic, causing lasting harm to individuals, businesses and communities.

-          Research into the economic and social impacts of the unconventional gas industry in Queensland has shown that the industry has led to a reduction in community well-being and social cohesion; a deterioration in local skills and infrastructure; few additional local job opportunities; and limited economic benefit to the wider economy. (More info. on this is available in this Australia Institute paper.)

-          Across Australia large areas of highly productive farmland are under threat from Unconventional Gas mining. This activity has the potential to severely disrupt virtually every aspect of agricultural production and potentially even remove the land from production. Rabobank has listed the risks from Unconventional Gas mining to include reductions in farm productivity, efficiency, land values and credit availability.

-          The rush to exploit CSG in Queensland and convert it to LNG, never previously attempted, has done lasting damage to the water resources and communities of the affected area, and has had drastic negative economic consequences, rapidly driving up the price of gas for domestic consumers and industry and throwing regional economies into turmoil.

  1. Call for a national approach (more info. on this available in this ANEDO paper)

 to the conduct of Unconventional Gas mining that includes:

-          A moratorium on any new unconventional gas mining or exploration until further important research has been completed and proper baselines put in place.

-          Exclusion zones to protect agricultural land, significant water resources, national landscapes and tourism icons, and residential dwellings from unconventional gas exploration and mining impacts.

-          The creation of new legislation to implement the goals of the National Food Plan and to give statutory weight to the Australian Council on Food.

-          Improved Federal environment laws that properly protect water sources, cultural heritage and significant environmental areas.

-          Identification of best practice methods for baseline monitoring of health impacts, water resources, air quality, soil quality, and fugitive emissions.

-          The creation of a Clean Air and Water Act that sets national standards on pollution from unconventional gas mining to protect human health and the establishment of a national Environment Protection Authority.

-          Proper measurement and accounting of greenhouse gas emissions from unconventional gas operations.

  1. Call for changes to the regulatory frameworks governing Unconventional Gas mining to address the deficiencies in current legislation, including:

-          Federal legislation to ensure that cumulative impacts from gas mining on nationally significant water resources, natural areas and cultural heritage sites are assessed, prevented and mitigated.

-          Expansion of the EPBC Act ‘water trigger’ so that all forms of Unconventional Gas extraction ie. shale and tight gas, are covered by it, as well as all coal and unconventional coal developments.

-          Banning of “flaring” which releases noxious air pollution and which has been banned in overseas jurisdictions.

-          Require full hazard assessments and compulsory disclosure of all chemicals used in unconventional gas mining, and prohibit the use or production of chemicals that are harmful to human health or the environment. 

-          Use of existing federal powers to create national legislation to give landholders, Traditional Owners and communities the right to say NO to Unconventional Gas operations.

Full Terms of Reference

The adequacy of Australia‘s legislative, regulatory and policy framework for unconventional gas mining including coal seam gas (CSG) and shale gas mining with reference to:

  1. a national approach to the conduct of unconventional gas mining in Australia;
  2. the health, social, business, agricultural, environmental, landholder and economic impacts of unconventional gas  mining;
  3. government  and  non-Government  services  and  assistance  for  those affected;
  4. compensation and insurance arrangements;
  5. compliance and penalty arrangements;
  6. harmonisation  of  federal  and  state/territory  government   legislation, regulations and  policies;
  7. legislative and regulatory frameworks for unconventional gas mining in comparable overseas  jurisdictions;
  8. the unconventional gas industry in Australia as an energy provider;
  9. the   current   royalty   and   taxation   arrangements   associated   with unconventional gas mining; and
  10. any related matter.’

 

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