The Lock The Gate Alliance has called on the NSW Resources Minister, Anthony Roberts, to pull back from his governments support for CSG mining in the Pilliga forest and other parts of NSW, following admissions by gas companies and IPART that that the greatest threat to gas prices in NSW is the CSG export industry itself.
IPART’s fact sheet on retail gas prices, released today, confirms that the significant price increases proposed by gas companies “are largely based on rising wholesale gas commodity costs, as the development of the LNG export market in Queensland increasingly links domestic gas prices to international prices.”
In a submission to IPART, AGL asked for a 25.8% increase in retail gas prices in the next two years, amounting to a $182 annual bill hike just in the first year for residential customers. In their submission, AGL cite the export of gas from Queensland as responsible for reduced supply and higher prices.
Lock the Gate National Coordinator, Phil Laird said, “The export of coal seam gas is a lose-lose prospect for NSW and Australia. Not only are farming communities in the north-west being told they must pay the price of greedy gas companies wanting to export Australia’s precious natural resources, but now we’ve had confirmation that ordinary NSW households are also being asked to foot the bill for the gas export industry. We're threatening our water supply, digging up forests, threatening farmland, and for what? For gas price hikes?"
Gas exploration is causing conflict with farmers in the North West of the State, Hunter Valley, Gloucester Valley and Northern Rivers region, and the Lock the Gate Alliance says it is time for the Government to back farmer’s right to say no to gas mining on important farmland and to protect the water resources that sustain rural communities.
Mr Laird continued, "The fact is that opening up NSW for CSG drilling will not only lead to massive price hikes in domestic gas but will also harm our best food-producing land and precious water supplies.
"We are calling on the Minister, Anthony Roberts to meet with farmers as a matter of urgency to discuss the many options available to protect farmland and water resources from CSG and deliver NSW energy needs from other sources' he said.
NSW Government is currently proposing changes to the Petroleum (Onshore) Act that would weaken protection for landholders in dealing with gas companies.
In the last week, seven people were arrested as over 100 farmers rallied in protest against exploration for coal seam gas in the Pilliga forest in North West NSW.
A decision on retail gas price increases is due from IPART in June this year, and information about the IPART gas retail price review, including submissions by gas companies, is available here.