Government pledges water protection
The Federal Government has announced it will implement greater environmental protection for water resources impacted by coal seam gas and large coal mining developments.
Federal Environment Minister, Tony Burke, said that the Government will introduce amendments to the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 that will require federal assessment and approval of coal seam gas and large coal mining developments which have a significant impact on water resources.
“The proposed amendments will ensure that coal seam gas and large coal mining developments must be assessed and approved under national environment law, if they are likely to have a significant impact on a water resource,” Mr Burke said.
“The community expectation has always been that we would take this into account. But up until now, we have only been able to take account of water to the extent there has been an impact on issues such as threatened species or a RAMSAR wetland.
“Realistically whenever I have made a decision on coal seam gas, the Australian public would expect that we are taking into account all the impacts on our precious water resources. This change gives me as Australia’s Environment Minister the capacity to do just that.”
Mr Burke said that the Federal Government is seeking input from industry.
“The additional information required in many instances will involve data that has already been collected in the state approval process,” Mr Burke said.
Shadow Minister for Energy and Resources, Ian Macfarlane, accused the Federal Government of generating excessive red tape and acting without due industry consultation.
The Queensland Government was quick to criticise the move, accusing the Federal Government of scaremongering.
“Unfortunately the CSG industry has always been susceptible to scare campaigns and this is yet another example of desperate people in Canberra looking to create controversy around sensitive issues to try to detract from their own poor performance,” Queensland Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney said.