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Analysis and Comment (65)

Shipping gas overseas can be good for Australia - but bad for Australian gas bills. Ken Hodge

Pain and gain as gas export boom is set to drive up domestic bills

Queensland’s liquid natural gas boom, built on the back of vast reserves of coal seam gas, will bring huge gains to Australia. Exports of gas are set to quadruple by 2018, creating investment, jobs and…
A coal seam gas field in New South Wales. The independent review concludes health impacts can be regulated; experts say otherwise. Jeremy Buckingham/Flickr

Chief Scientist CSG report leaves health concerns unanswered

The long-awaited independent review of coal seam gas (CSG) in New South Wales, released last week by the NSW Chief Scientist, highlighted many risks and uncertainties around human health from exposure…
Under federal law, coal seam gas projects must be approved by the environment minister if they could have a significant impact on water. Jeremy Buckingham/Flickr

Coalition’s environmental one-stop shop is falling apart

The Palmer United Party (PUP) has added to the Coalition’s headaches in the Senate by announcing this week it would seek to remove the so-called “water trigger” from the government’s “one-stop shop” for…
Is the ABC biased against fossil fuels? The IPA thinks so, but it’s not really the most constructive question to ask. AAP Image/Tracey Nearmy

Claims of ABC anti-coal and gas ‘bias’ aren’t backed by the facts

It’s tempting to view The Australian’s latest broadside at the ABC as just another salvo fired between our nation’s two biggest media organisations. But the coverage, based on an Institute of Public Affairs…
The methane-detecting four-wheel-drive, measuring emissions around Queensland and NSW coal seam gas wells. Tests were also done upwind of each site to avoid cows or other methane sources skewing the results. CSIRO

Coal seam gas emissions lower than US: first Australian study

One of the most common questions Australians ask about coal seam gas is whether the gas wells leak – and if so, how much? In the first Australian study of its kind, new CSIRO research now gives an indication…
A coal seam gas pilot well from the Santos Narrabri Gas Project in New South Wales, which has divided opinion in the local community. AAP Image/Dean Lewins

The challenge of sorting fact from fiction on coal seam gas

Can you match the following three statements with the answers just below? Coal seam gas is bad for the environment and we should all protest against its use. Genetically modified foods are a part of multinational…
CSIRO is contending with a A$111 million hit to its budget over four years. Bidgee/Wikimedia Commons

CSIRO risks backing the wrong horse as it reacts to budget cuts

What happens to CSIRO when the federal government decides to strip away A$111 million over four years from its A$733 million annual contribution to the organisation’s budget? We are beginning to find out…
Communities across eastern Australia are fighting against coal seam gas mining … and winning. Kate Ausburn/Flickr

New tactics see coal seam gas protests gain the upper hand

Community coal seam gas campaigns have had some big wins lately, most recently in the suspension of the drilling licence for CSG company Metgasco in New South Wales. Referred to the Independent Commission…
Coal seam gas landscape in New South Wales, showing ponds holding wastewater. Jeremy Buckingham MLC/Flickr

Coal seam gas water leaks could be a problem for decades

Recently reported leaks of water containing high levels of radioactive uranium from a coal seam gas (CSG) wastewater pond operated by Santos in New South Wales put the spotlight on an industry already…
New South Wales’s Appin power plant runs on coal seam gas. Bluedawe/Wikimedia Commons

Three myths the coal seam gas industry wants you to believe

Coal seam gas has an image problem, as a former Santos chairman and others in the industry have acknowledged. The way the industry extracts natural gas from deep underground coal seams, both here and overseas…
The Ruby Jo coal seam gas central processing plant, near Chinchilla in Queensland’s Surat Basin, October 2013. AAP/Dave Hunt

How coal seam gas is changing the face of rural Queensland

Why would young Australians buck international trends and move to the country? According to our research, a growing youth population has been observed in coal seam gas (CSG) development areas within the…
Unlike Queensland, it’s very unlikely there will be fracking for coal seam gas in Victoria. Simon Townsley, QGC AUSTRALIA

Unconventional gas in Victoria: proceed with care

While New South Wales and Queensland have moved to exploit unconventional gas resources, Victoria maintains a ban on hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) for onshore shale gas and coal seam gas (CSG). Those…
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…
Oil and gas production is growing in the US, mainly thanks to unconventional production methods. EPA/Jim Lo Scalzo

Now largest oil and gas producer, will the US get extra clout?

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported: The U.S. is overtaking Russia as the world’s largest producer of oil and natural gas, a startling shift that is reshaping markets and eroding…
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…
New South Wales needs to consider all the options to avoid a gas crisis. Flickr/mikeyp2000

Is New South Wales really facing a gas crisis?

The NSW Energy Security Summit being held in Sydney this week looks like turning into a debate on the relative economic and environmental credentials of coal seam gas, while at the same time exposing a…
The Greens' leader Christine Milne speaking at the National Press Club, 4 September. AAP Image/Penny Bradfield

FactCheck: does Australia have a gas supply crisis?

“I’ve yet to see any evidence that we have a [gas] supply crisis in Australia at all.” – Australian Greens' leader Christine Milne, Fairfax Google+ hangout, 26 August. The Greens' leader Christine Milne…
The LNP wants to scrap CSG legislation. AAP Image/Dan Peled

Putting coal seam gas clashes on the election map

Coal seam gas (CSG) is fundamentally divisive. Proponents of short-term profits are pitted against those whose priority is to preserve the sustainable resources of agricultural land and scarce water. As…
New South Wales relies heavily on gas, but gets nearly all its supply from elsewhere. Warren Rohner

Coal seam gas and New South Wales' looming energy crisis

New South Wales is the only major state in Australia that does not have energy security. Its reliance on Victorian and Queensland gas, paired with the vital role gas plays in its homes and industries…
Sun and wind are intangible. It’s hard to sell them. But the State can make big money if it owns fossil fuels. Rory MacLeod

Should we extend property rights to the atmosphere?

While Australia aims to produce a fifth of its energy from renewable sources by 2020, non-renewable energy is still flourishing. But non-renewable energy sources such as coal and gas have a significant…
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. 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…
Monitoring radon could reveal whether coal seam gas extraction is messing with the soil’s structure. Jeremy Buckingham

Earthquakes and coal seam gas

Two recent peer reviewed studies on opposite sides of the globe have shed light on how monitoring of earthquakes and determining greenhouse gas emissions from the coal seam gas (CSG) industry may be connected…
Yes, we need energy, but sometimes it’s OK to say “no”. AAP Image/Tracey Nearmy

Fracking? Not in my back yard (or yours)

Fracking is utterly transforming the global energy industry. It has opened up new energy reserves by making it economically viable to extract natural gas from coal seams and shale formations. As a result…
The debate around the Keystone XL pipeline represents concern over the environmental effects of non-conventional fossil fuels. Flickr/shannonpatrick

US non-conventional fossil fuel: environmental risks

In the US, extraction of non-conventional fossil fuels is booming. Investment in extra-heavy and heavy oils, oil shales and sands, tight oil and gas, shale gas and coal seam gas is taking off as companies…
We still don’t know what impact the chemicals used to extract coal seam gas have on our health. Greens MPs

We need to do our homework on the health risks of coal seam gas

Last night’s ABC Four Corners program, Gas Leak!, highlighted worrying flaws in the approval and monitoring processes for coal seam gas (CSG) developments of state governments in Queensland and New South…
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…
Can on-field adulation translate to off-field trustworthiness? AAP Image/Dean Lewins

Big league stakes: gambling on a sport legend to sell coal seam gas

Darren Lockyer knows a thing or two about conversions, having banged hundreds between the posts and over the crossbar during his rugby league career. He retired on a high in 2011, having captained the…
As CSG development races ahead in Queensland and NSW, even supporters want to make sure the industry is safe and well-regulated. AAP Image/Dave Hunt

We need more research into the safety of CSG, says community

With the debate increasing over coal seam gas (CSG) exploration, and all sides claiming the moral high ground, how do you find out what the community really thinks about the issue? Well you could do what…
Many Australians are concerned about whether coal seam gas extraction will affect the quality of their water. Jeremy Buckingham MLC

Dealing with the health risks of unconventional gas

Community concerns over unconventional gas (shale and coal seam) mining in Australia are increasing. These concerns relate to water and air pollution, land usage, fugitive emissions and to inadequate assessment…
The earth’s crust might be our most valuable resource yet. prawnpie/Flickr

Earth’s most valuable resource is the space between the sand

For centuries, the shallow parts of the earth’s crust have provided us with fuels to burn in our fireplaces, foundries and generators. Now, as we try to break free from our reliance on some of the dirtier…
A coal seam gas production well between Tara and Chinchilla, Queensland. Jeremy Buckingham

Air pollution from coal seam gas may put public health at risk

Concerns about the unconventional gas industry’s environmental impacts have been around for some time. The major issues are its effect on surface and groundwater, and growing evidence of greater-than-anticipated…
CSG is new on the scene, but lessons we’ve learned from older land-use conflicts could help us out. Tony Markham

Coal seam gas: just another land use in a big country

In 2011, the Australian Council of Environmental Deans and Directors (ACEDD) asked Dr John Williams, former Chief of CSIRO Land and Water Division, to review the science on coal seam gas. John’s report…
Victoria’s economy relies heavily on agriculture - we need protections in place before we let coal seam gas exploration into farming land. Krstnn Hrmnsn/Flickr

Coal seam gas is coming to Victoria, and we’re nowhere near ready

Coal seam gas mining is rapidly expanding beyond the eastern basin states. The Inquiry into Greenfields Mineral Exploration and Project Development in Victoria recommends the Victorian Government establish…
Anti-CSG campaigners - including Lock the Gate’s Drew Hutton - believe bubbles in the Condamine River have been caused by mining. AAP

Bubbling to the surface: CSG impacts and the Condamine

The extraction of coal seam gas (CSG) appears to be a simple exercise - drill bores, pump the water out and gas flows away. While this is technically true, many of the environmental risks are nowhere near…
Queenslanders don’t like coal seam gas, but a smart government could change all that. AAP

First job for the new Queensland government: fix coal seam gas

Three little words strike fear into the heart of at least 40% of Queenslanders: coal seam gas. These three seemingly innocuous words have managed to divide a state, and become the hottest topic in the…
Shutting down shale gas is a short-cut to reducing emissions. alienscapes/Flickr

Methane makes shale gas a current climate danger

In the US, as in Australia, debate about the merits of alternative gases has been heated. In the US the contentious gas is shale, rather than coal seam. But at least one source of conflict is the same…
Coal’s heyday is coming to a close, but is gas a long-term solution? Guy Gorek

The future of gas power: stepping-stone or snare?

The past few years have seen the rapid expansion of the coal seam and shale gas industry. Combine this expansion with the recent introduction of a price on carbon here in Australia, and you end up with…
The Federal Government’s draft energy white paper outlines a future where Australia still depends on fossil fuels. AAP

Australia’s draft energy white paper misses the big picture

The release of Australia’s draft energy white paper has outlined a future where Australia continues to be largely dependent on fossil fuels, embraces uranium and expands existing deregulation and privatisation…
If we’re going to talk about how safe CSG is (or isn’t), we need to look at the full picture. AAP/Origin Energy

Coal gas seams good … until you measure the methane

The Mineral Resources Rent Tax passed through the House of Representatives last week, but not without negotiations with the Greens and independent MPs. Perhaps the most significant outcome of negotiations…
Fishing has been banned in Gladstone while authorities try to determine what’s killing marine species. robstephaustralia

Is dredging killing the Gladstone fish and making us sick?

Several individuals have required medical attention after a mystery disease appeared to spread to humans from fish in waters near Gladstone, Queensland. Fishing bans are currently in place and local residents…
Coal seam gas mining can create 5 million litres of “produced” water per well. Jeremy Buckingham MLC

National Water Commission calls for a closer look at fracking

Last week, the Federal Government’s National Water Commission (NWC) delivered its third biannual assessment of the national water initiative (NWI). And for the first time, the NWC is looking seriously…
Farmers are worried about their land and water, but governments want their gas. AAP

Food or fuel: how will governments solve the coal seam gas dilemma?

Food security and energy security are paramount to the survival and growth of Australia. Food security so that we may feed ourselves (and a hungry world), and energy security for transport, heating, lighting…
The movie Gasland galvanised the public on the dangers of fracking. Gasland

NSW’s coal seam gas ban - where the frack to next?

Fracking. It’s a hotbed of controversy that spans our increasingly energy-hungry globe. The French have turned their back on it. Permanently. And now the NSW government has temporarily frozen the use of…
Is all the fuss over coal seam gas warranted? Lock the Gate/Flickr

What the frack is going on with coal seam gas?

In collaboration with The Drum, The Conversation is giving statements made by public figures the fine-tooth-comb treatment they deserve. Today, a new energy source, and its dangers: “Coal seam gas is a…
There’s more to natural gas than Gasland. lilicomanche/flickr

There’s more to coal seam gas than Gasland

Senator Christine Milne has declared coal seam gas to be “a disaster for Australia,” and there’s much concern in the community about its effect on the environment. Some of this concern stems from horror…
Poor regulation overseas has set the stage for disaster. AAP

Better coal seam gas regulation needed to keep Australia safe

The last week has seen the Australian coal seam gas (CSG) industry come under increasing scrutiny. Triggered by a gas explosion in the Darling Downs in Queensland, and legal action against BHP in the US…
Coal seam gas drilling threatens our most arable land. «Jonny Boy»/flickr

Coal seam gas a risk to food security

Coal seam gas has been touted by some as the answer to our addiction to dirty coal. It’s marketed as a “transition fuel” that will ween us off fossil fuels as we move to renewable energy. But the process…

Research and News (3)

Research Briefs (2)