Friday, 21 October 2011

We Want CSG Advertising Campaign

The industry’s advertising campaign ‘We want CSG’ says that it will bring royalties to the states but in NSW royalties are not due until five years after production starts.

It says it provides jobs, small country businesses no longer rely on one industry and more than $45 billion is already breathing new life into small towns. Some small businesses are benefiting while others are not. House rental rises have forced some workers in industries not related to mining to leave town. Infrastructure, such as roads, and some facilities are being pushed to the limits with the increase in population. Locals are discovering that fly in fly out miners don’t spend their money in mining towns – they spend it when they leave.

The speakers in the advertisements are predominantly small business owners - motel, cleaning, estate agent, butcher - who all stand to benefit financially from mining. The farmers in the ads are from Camden and Casino where farms are usually small and therefore less likely to be productive.

The industry claims that ‘using CSG to generate electricity instead of coal can reduce greenhouse emissions by up to 70%’ but a comparison has not been done from the start of the mining process to the end. They have also admitted to the Sydney Morning Herald that this figure is based on brown coal which is not used in Queensland or NSW.

The website also states that ‘The CSG industry is spending tens of millions of dollars carrying out the studies and assessments needed to underpin a safe and sustainable industry and to ensure appropriate monitoring programs are in place.’ This should have been done before wells and LNG plants were approved. Studies and assessments funded by the industry are likely to produce biased outcomes. Independent studies and regulations are required.

Recently I spoke to a friend in Gladstone. The town is swarming with miners who fly in and fly out and rental accommodation is expensive and impossible to find. Dead wildlife wash up on the beach every day and yet the industry proudly claims how the community benefits include an airport upgrade, public housing and money for wildlife carers.

As for the most important issue of water, website states ‘years of extensive monitoring in and around operating Queensland CSG fields have found no impact on aquifers other than the gas-producing coal seams.’

Full monitoring of ground water has only just begun due to the anti-CSG campaign. In some areas it is still not happening. Numerous instances of contaminated bores near to gas wells have been reported in Queensland.

Another claim is that ‘CSG associated water can be used by farmers or used for other beneficial purposes such as irrigation, stock watering or even town water supplies. In some cases, CSG associated water must be treated. Gas producers are investing substantial sums into reverse osmosis water treatment plants to make this water fit for various beneficial purposes including reinjection to recharge aquifers.’

What they don’t say is that after treatment brine remains. There is a lot of it, there is going to be a lot more and to date no one has said what they are going to do with it. It is currently sitting in lined ponds. How long does this lining last?

They are keen to say that they don’t use BTEX when fracking but refrain from saying that BTEX and other chemicals exist in the coal seam naturally and leach into the aquifers when disturbed.

The CSG industry promotes itself as a cleaner power resource, providing jobs and paying taxes and royalties to the government which will in turn provide us with better facilities and a high standard of living during a world recession.

But what are the risks? No one knows for sure and yet this industry has been allowed to develop rapidly, especially in Queensland and now it is moving into NSW.

The movement against coal seam gas is calling for a Royal Commission into the industry as this is the only way people can be compelled to talk and tell the truth or risk prosecution. While the Royal Commission is being held the development of this industry needs to stop pending the outcome.

We have a choice. Do we want to continue our high standard of living and risk the contamination of our water and food producing land for future generations or do we want a drop in living standards until the risks are assessed?

10 October, 2011 – Sydney Morning Herald
Consultant's ad role raises questions
An employee in a company which says it provides independent environmental consulting services - including advice on coal seam gas projects - has appeared in a glossy TV advertising campaign promoting the industry. Read more:

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