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What the frack is going on with coal seam gas?

Is all the fuss over coal seam gas warranted? Lock the Gate/Flickr

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 disaster for Australia. It is not an industry we should be beginning at a time when we need to be getting away from investment in fossil fuels.” - Senator Christine Milne

Here’s what six leading academics made of Senator Milne’s statement:

Dennis Cooke, Program Manager for Unconventional Resources, Australian School of Petroleum, University of Adelaide:

“The potential of natural gas as an energy source is huge. It has been estimated that Australia could meet its Kyoto CO2 reduction targets just by replacing the large amount of coal we burn for electricity generation with natural gas. So eastern Australia could switch from coal to natural gas and lessen its impact on the climate and environment.” Read the full article.

David Shearman, Emeritus Professor of Medicine, University of Adelaide:

“It’s vital to look at the expansion of the coal industry which we know has serious health hazards. The need now is for a Health Impact Assessment on coal seam gas. The Senate Committee must consider reform processes in its deliberations on coal seam gas. There should be no half measures with human health; we should have learned this from the asbestos disaster.” Read the full article.

Peter Dart, Associate Professor, Agriculture and Food Sciences, University of Queensland:

“The process of drilling for coal seam gas poses a significant threat to another environmental challenge of the 21st century - food security. Our thirst for less emissions-intensive fuel is placing future generations at risk as we dice with some of the most valuable agricultural land in the world.” Read the full article.

Mauricio Taulis, Lecturer in Biogeosciences, Queensland University of Technology:

“The CSG industry has developed at such a rapid pace that stakeholders sometimes have had a hard time catching up to the potential environmental effects associated with development of this resource. But industry and government regulations have been constantly improving. Coal seam gas is a very important industry in Queensland, it provides a lot of jobs and resources.” Read the full article.

Tina Hunter, Assistant Professor, Petroleum Law and Energy Law, Bond University:

“In December 2010, the National Water Commissioner called for improved management of the CSG industry, recognising that if the development of CSG is not adequately managed and regulated, the industry risks significant long-term and adverse impacts on surface and groundwater systems.” Read the full article.

Ronald Ripple, Director, Centre for Research in Energy and Mineral Economics, Curtin University of Technology:

“It’s important to understand the difference between the US and Australian situations. The movie Gasland dealt with shale gas, but in Australia, we’re dealing with coal seam gas, and there are important differences between the two. Regardless, both coal seam gas and shale gas could significantly increase Australia’s energy supply and security.” Read the full article.

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