NSW legislation for coal seam gas is obsolete

Social, legal and health issues related to air and water toxic pollution in Australia.

NSW legislation for coal seam gas is obsolete

Postby sysop » Wed May 12, 2010 12:57 am

We have received an official communication from the Minister for Mineral and Forrest Resources Ian MacDonald MLC. The minister seems to think that the Bulga Broke Valley area is perfectly suitable for a large scale coal seem gas extraction development. He also suggests that we should wait with any objections until AGL completes their exploration and that the interest of Hunter Valley Protection Alliance are adequately protected by the Petroleum (Onshore) Act 1991 and by
Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979. We have searched this legislation and found that it seriously predates developments in the coal seam gas industry in Australia. It does not address any of our concerns.
For example:
The legislation (see links below) does not include any references to coal seam gas, coal seam methanee or just methane. Yet CSG extraction is a new technology that requires hydraulic fracturing operations (also know as stimulation in the polite society) that results in introducing proprietary toxic chemical into underground strata. This may lead to contamination of the underground aquifers. Yet search terms such as hydraulic fracturing, fracking, stimulation, aquifers, toxic return blank. This is not surprising since the legislation precedes the technology and was not updated.

We are concerned about the photochemical smog and consequent ozone toxicity caused by hundreds of diesel engines running constantly in the gas field drilling rings, tankers and compressor stations. Once again the legislation is silent about these hazards.

Quotes of the legislation below show Objects of the Environmental Planning and And Assessment Act. There is a lot of "motherhood statements" about the participation of the local residents in environmental matters. Yet, when AGL finishes with their exploration and submits proposals to convert our valley into a gasfield, we will have only 30 days to analyze and respond to their plans. They had ten years to prepare them!

We are also very concerned about destruction and fracturing of the fertile lands in our valley . A picture below shows a mature gasfield on the banks of the Colorado River, USA. What sane person would like to live in an industrial waste land like this without a huge compensation?


Links and Quotes

Petroleum (Onshore) Act 1991 No 84

Schedule of Onshore Petroleum Exploration and Production Safety Requirements August,1992

Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 No 203
5 Objects
The objects of this Act are:
(a) to encourage:
(i) the proper management, development and conservation of natural and artificial resources, including
agricultural natural areas, forests, minerals, water, cities, towns and villages for the purpose of
promoting the social and economic welfare of the community and a better environment,

(ii) the promotion and co-ordination of the orderly and economic use and development of land,

(iii) the protection, provision and co-ordination of communication and utility services,

(iv) the provision of land for public purposes,

(v) the provision and co-ordination of community services and facilities, and

(vi) the protection of the environment, including the protection and conservation of native animals
and plants, including threatened species, populations and ecological communities, and their habitats, and

(vii) ecologically sustainable development, and

(viii) the provision and maintenance of affordable housing, and

(b) to promote the sharing of the responsibility for environmental planning between the different
levels of government in the State, and

(c) to provide increased opportunity for public involvement and participation in environmental
planning and assessment.

75H Environmental assessment and public consultation

(1) The proponent is to submit to the Director-General the environmental assessment required under this Division for approval to carry out the project.

(2) If the Director-General considers that the environmental assessment does not adequately address
the environmental assessment requirements, the Director-General may require the proponent to submit
a revised environmental assessment to address the matters notified to the proponent.

(3) After the environmental assessment has been accepted by the Director-General, the Director
-General must, in accordance with any guidelines published by the Minister in the Gazette,
make the environmental assessment publicly available for at least 30days.

(4) During that period, any person (including a public authority) may make a written submission
to the Director-General concerning the matter.

(5) The Director-General is to provide copies of submissions received by the Director-General or a report of
the issues raised in those submissions to:

(a) the proponent, and

(b) if the project will require an environment protection licence under Chapter 3 of the
Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997—the Department of Environment, Climate
Change and Water, and

(c) any other public authority the Director-General considers appropriate.

(6) The Director-General may require the proponent to submit to the Director-General:

(a) a response to the issues raised in those submissions, and

(b) a preferred project report that outlines any proposed changes to the project to minimise its environmental
impact, and

(c) any revised statement of commitments.

(7) If the Director-General considers that significant changes are proposed to the nature of the project,
the Director-General may require the proponent to make the preferred project report available to the public.

Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 No 156
3 Objects of Act

The objects of this Act are as follows:

(a) to protect, restore and enhance the quality of the environment in New South Wales, having regard to the need to maintain ecologically sustainable development,

(b) to provide increased opportunities for public involvement and participation in environment protection,

(c) to ensure that the community has access to relevant and meaningful information about pollution,

(d) to reduce risks to human health and prevent the degradation of the environment by the use of mechanisms that promote the following:

(i) pollution prevention and cleaner production,

(ii) the reduction to harmless levels of the discharge of substances likely to cause harm to the environment,

(iia) the elimination of harmful wastes,

(iii) the reduction in the use of materials and the re-use, recovery or recycling of materials,

(iv) the making of progressive environmental improvements, including the reduction of pollution at source,

(v) the monitoring and reporting of environmental quality on a regular basis,

(e) to rationalise, simplify and strengthen the regulatory framework for environment protection,

(f) to improve the efficiency of administration of the environment protection legislation,

(g) to assist in the achievement of the objectives of the Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery Act 2001.

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