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Analysis and Comment (26)

Australia has a strategy for abandoned mines - but it needs implementing. Australia has a strategy for abandoned mines - but it needs implementing. Caveman/Flickr

What should we do with Australia’s 50,000 abandoned mines?

Wandering around Australia, you might want to watch your step — the country currently has more than 50,000 abandoned mines. Some represent a significant threat from contamination; others may pose safety…
Part of Shoalwater Bay in Queensland, where the federal government blocked a major new coal port in 2008 over its “clearly unacceptable” environmental impacts". Part of Shoalwater Bay in Queensland, where the federal government blocked a major new coal port in 2008 over its “clearly unacceptable” environmental impacts". Daniel E. Smith/Wikimedia Commons

‘Green tape’ cuts: industry wins, locals and the environment lose

Deep cuts to environmental programs and staff predicted in today’s federal budget aren’t the only “green” cuts that Australians should be concerned about. The federal government is currently holding an…
A report criticising government oversight of a major Gladstone harbour dredging project has warned against cutting resources for environmental monitoring and compliance. A report criticising government oversight of a major Gladstone harbour dredging project has warned against cutting resources for environmental monitoring and compliance. Flickr/GreensMPs

Environmental job cuts risk a repeat of Gladstone failures

A long-awaited report on environmental failures at the biggest port along the Great Barrier Reef coastline and today’s federal budget may not seem connected – but if you read the report, it’s clear just…
Four out of five Australians live within 50 kilometres of the coast – but expanding cities are taking a toll on our environment. Four out of five Australians live within 50 kilometres of the coast – but expanding cities are taking a toll on our environment. Paul Boyce/Flickr

The state of Australia: our environment

In the lead-up to the budget, the story of crisis has been hammered home, but there’s more to a country than its structural deficit. So how is Australia doing overall? In this special series, ten writers…
Australia’s environmental laws are there to protect places like the Great Barrier Reef. Australia’s environmental laws are there to protect places like the Great Barrier Reef. Flickr/eutrophication&hypoxia

Explainer: one-stop-shop for environmental approvals

The new Federal Government has approved a broad framework for achieving a “one-stop-shop” that will delegate to state and territory governments the final decisions on projects assessed under Australia’s…
Port developments shouldn’t be assessed individually. Port developments shouldn’t be assessed individually. AAP Image/Dave Hunt

It all adds up: port development on the Great Barrier Reef

The Queensland and Australian government’s draft strategic assessment of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area has been released today. The strategic assessment was prompted by the 2012 UNESCO-IUCN…
Many coal and CSG projects will affect groundwater, much of which is already in use. Many coal and CSG projects will affect groundwater, much of which is already in use. Flickr/rhondda.p

Coal and gas projects can’t be rushed: here’s why

New environment minister Greg Hunt recently announced 50 large coal and coal seam gas developments to be pushed through Australia’s environmental approval process, including assessment under the new federal…
The Franklin River in Tasmania, site of the landmark decision by the Commonwealth to stop a state-proposed dam. The Franklin River in Tasmania, site of the landmark decision by the Commonwealth to stop a state-proposed dam. Flickr/Two Big Paws

Commonwealth will keep environmental power over state projects

The Commonwealth will not delegate to the states decisions under its national environmental laws in which the states have a “conflict of interest”. Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt confirmed this…
Queensland’s groundwater is vital to the continued success of its agriculture. Queensland’s groundwater is vital to the continued success of its agriculture. Brian Yap

Coal’s damage is cumulative: let’s assess it that way

Mine operators have proposed nine major new coal mines for the Galilee Basin in central Queensland. Those proposals currently being assessed by the Queensland government could significantly impact water…
Tony Abbott might think his approvals plan will simplify things, but it will unleash new complications. Tony Abbott might think his approvals plan will simplify things, but it will unleash new complications. AAP Image/Lukas Coch

Opposition plan to surrender environmental approvals a messy backward step

While the political focus in Australia was on the Labor Party leadership challenge, the Opposition released its policy for “a one-stop-shop for environmental approvals”. The policy claims that handing…
The lack of transparency for the economic modelling of the Galilee Coal Project means the public must rely on the word of Waratah Coal. The lack of transparency for the economic modelling of the Galilee Coal Project means the public must rely on the word of Waratah Coal. AAP Image/Lukas Coch

Can we trust Clive? Commercial-in-confidence coal mines

Clive Palmer’s Waratah Coal claims its Galilee Coal Project, which will create four underground mines, two open-cut mines, and 468 kilometres of railway line in central Queensland, will bring economic…
Water is in short supply and high demand in Australia: who should have the final say on its use? Water is in short supply and high demand in Australia: who should have the final say on its use?

Regulating water: debate swirls around Commonwealth’s role

The release of a Senate report into a Commonwealth water trigger marks another chapter in a debate that has simmered and bubbled for 30 years in Australia. The report recommends that the main Commonwealth…
People are right to be worried about how thoroughly coal and gas’s affect on water is being assessed. People are right to be worried about how thoroughly coal and gas’s affect on water is being assessed. cobalt123/flickr

Coal and gas fail the test when it comes to environmental impact

There has been an acceleration in the number of coal seam gas and mining proposals approved in Australia. Since 2010, eight projects have been given the green light in Queensland alone. All projects have…
Take care! The precautionary principle can only go so far without data to rely on. Take care! The precautionary principle can only go so far without data to rely on. Jeremy Buckingham

Environmental assessment of coal seam gas lacks scientific back-up

Yesterday, the Federal government issued new recommendations for methods to estimate emissions from conventional gas and from coal seam gas production. So what did we learn? The proposals seek to refine…
Better protection for and public consultation on CSG’s effect on aquifers is good news. Better protection for and public consultation on CSG’s effect on aquifers is good news. Kate Ausburn

Federal government’s control of coal seam gas a welcome relief

The Federal Government has moved to exert greater control over coal seam gas mining projects which are currently largely in the hands of the states. Under the proposed new rules if a coal seam gas project…
Weakening environmental protections would make it harder to do business in Australia. Weakening environmental protections would make it harder to do business in Australia. Dave Hunt/AAP

Cutting ‘green tape’ won’t make a more prosperous Australia

Proposed changes to Australia’s national environmental law, the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Act (EPBC) 1999, appear to have been shelved. The politics have shifted rapidly. Ultimately, the…
As a World Heritage Area, Springbrook National Park gets additional protection from the Commonwealth. What if Queensland were in charge of its future? As a World Heritage Area, Springbrook National Park gets additional protection from the Commonwealth. What if Queensland were in charge of its future? Shaun Johnston

Commonwealth should keep final say on environment protection

Almost 30 years ago, the Australian High Court gave the Commonwealth Government constitutional authority to make laws protecting the national environment. Now, a Council of Australian Governments (CoAG…
Buildings in New York are given an environmental energy rating. Less than 750 buildings in Australia have been similarly rated. Buildings in New York are given an environmental energy rating. Less than 750 buildings in Australia have been similarly rated. L C Nottaasen/Flickr

Why we should be diagnosing the environmental health of buildings

Improving the health of our building operations is one of the most effective, current ways to reduce our impact on climate change. And just as in medicine, being able to diagnose and improve health requires…
The Queensland government is keen to remove as many barriers to development as possible. But at what cost to the state’s environment? The Queensland government is keen to remove as many barriers to development as possible. But at what cost to the state’s environment? AAP/Dave Hunt

Queensland’s big step back from environmental assessment

The defining characteristic of the Newman government’s environmental policy seems to be a Great Leap Backwards: an old-fashioned determination not to let environmental concerns get in the way of expanding…
James Price Point’s monsoon vine thickets are culturally and ecologically important, and undervalued in assessments of environmental impact. James Price Point’s monsoon vine thickets are culturally and ecologically important, and undervalued in assessments of environmental impact. Artist and botanist Jeanne Brown

James Price Point: environmental significance ignored in failed impact assessment

The proposed Browse Liquefied Natural Gas Hub at James Price Point (known locally as Walmadany), 50km north of Broome, has created one of the most fiercely fought environmental and indigenous battles currently…
A bund wall surrounds the Fishermans Landing Wharf expansion in Gladstone. A bund wall surrounds the Fishermans Landing Wharf expansion in Gladstone. AAP/Dave Hunt

UNESCO throws down gauntlet on Great Barrier Reef ports

The sealing of a leak of dredge spoil (harbour-bottom scooped up and dumped in a landfill area) in a bund wall in Gladstone harbour was announced on 25th of June by the Gladstone Ports Corporation. Scientists…
Australia could have led the world in assessing projects for their economic, social and environmental impacts, but we lost our nerve. Australia could have led the world in assessing projects for their economic, social and environmental impacts, but we lost our nerve. AAP

Beyond setting an example: what is Australian environmental policy for?

WHAT IS AUSTRALIA FOR? Australia is no longer small, remote or isolated. It’s time to ask What Is Australia For?, and to acknowledge the wealth of resources we have beyond mining. Over the next two weeks…
There’s a lot of opposition to CSG mining in NSW. Will Marrickville’s moves to stop it encourage other councils? There’s a lot of opposition to CSG mining in NSW. Will Marrickville’s moves to stop it encourage other councils? AAP

Who owns coal seam gas in New South Wales (and who can stop it being mined)?

Earlier this week, Marrickville City Council in suburban Sydney blocked an attempt to mine coal seam gas on privately owned land in the inner-city area of St Peters. The Council imposed a condition on…
The current environmental impact regulations often produce nothing more than a big pile of paper. The current environmental impact regulations often produce nothing more than a big pile of paper. liz west

Green tape reform - dangers but also opportunities

The last few weeks have seen an extraordinary cross party agreement that environmental regulation of development needs reform. The Prime Minister wants coordination with the states streamlined; the Leader…
‘Green tape’ is an emotive term that tries to make condemning environmental protection look like common sense. ‘Green tape’ is an emotive term that tries to make condemning environmental protection look like common sense. Bill Rogers

Spinning ‘green tape’ as the climate changes

With only inverted commas signalling the spin, the news media have happily re-cycled the term “green tape”, the latest rhetorical gambit by those decrying environmental protections as unnecessarily delaying…
Is enough being done to analyse industry’s effects on the environment? Is enough being done to analyse industry’s effects on the environment? howardignatius

What is Gladstone’s LNG development really doing to the environment?

The Queensland port city of Gladstone has been in the news for all the wrong reasons lately. Fish and other marine life have been infected by a strange parasite that seemed to make the leap to humans…

Research Briefs (2)