Community perspectives of natural resource extraction: CSG

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

Community perspectives of natural resource extraction: CSG

Postby HVPA_research » Sat Apr 19, 2014 12:54 am

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* Archived from a published scientific paper *
This paper analyses the dynamics of the interactions between the CSG industry and the local communities in Eastern Australia.

Community perspectives of natural resource extraction: coal-seam gas mining and social identity in Eastern Australia
By D. Lloyd1, H. Luke2 & W.E. Boyd, Coolabah, No.10, 2013, ISSN 1988-5946, Observatori: Centre d’Estudis Australians,
Australian Studies Centre, Universitat de Barcelona (2013.)

Abstract: Using a recent case study of community reaction to proposed coal-seam gas mining in eastern Australia, we illustrate the role of community views in issues of natural resource use. Drawing on interviews, observations and workshops, the paper explores the anti-coal-seam gas social movement from its stages of infancy through to being a national debate linking community groups across and beyond Australia.

Primary community concerns of inadequate community consultation translate into fears regarding potential impacts on farmland and cumulative impacts on aquifers and future water supply, and questions regarding economic, social and environmental benefits. Many of the community activists had not previously been involved in such social action. A recurring message from affected communities is concern around perceived insufficient research and legislation for such rapid industrial expansion.

A common citizen demand is the cessation of the industry until there is better understanding of underground water system interconnectivity and the methane extraction and processing life cycle. Improved scientific knowledge of the industry and its potential impacts will, in the popular view, enable better comparison of power generation efficiency with coal and renewable energy sources and better comprehension of the industry as a transition energy industry. It will also enable elected representatives and policy makers to make more informed decisions while developing appropriate legislation to ensure a sustainable future.

Quote from the Methods section of the paper:
In developing this case study, we focussed on describing the various social constructions of the issue of coal-seam gas mining, based on people’s expression of these constructed ideas, through interviews, and their behaviour reflecting the ideas through observations at key events (Jackson and Penrose, 1993). This allowed us to examine interactions not readily distinguishable from their context The case study builds on interviews with key informants from key social action groups engaged in this issue, and observations at key events:

- The Western Downs Alliance
- Lock the Gate
- The Basin Sustainability Alliance
- Kyogle Group Against Gas
- Keerong Gas Squad
- The Ngaraakwal Indigenous Association
- The Tara blockade and the May Day Chinchilla parade (May)
- The Murwillumbah protest rally (May)
- 9th Annual Australian Coal-Seam Gas Conference, Brisbane (June)
- Lock the Gate Annual General Meeting (June)
- Casino Environmental Defenders Office public meeting (August)
- Arrow Energy Public consultation, Lismore (September

Quote from the Discussion section of the paper
The individuals and groups involved in this study appear to be reflecting growing concerns of, on the one hand, an Australian public rapidly losing its faith in its governing structure (Irvine, 2011), and, on the other hand, a fragile dependence of our capitalist system, a system dependent on already strained natural resource base (Dunstan, 2011; Roubini, 2011). The concerns broached in this study highlight questions of the principles, foundations and perceptions of science and research as is applies to industrial extraction of natural resources. Our record also illustrates the potential independent community groups to question the role of scientific enquiry in a society where governmental decision-making tends to lean towards economic outcomes (Klan, 2011). The coal-seam gas industry is a most obvious symptom a malaise many people see in Australian society today, and the public concerns – expressed in all their diversity – reflect a healthy social response to environmentally damaging industrial activity.

The complete paper may be downloaded from

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