Indeed, he also seems to have done the same to the New South Wales government and any other state government.
Yesterday, Burke announced the federal government would be implementing “greater environmental protection for water resources impacted by coal seam gas and large coal mining developments”
Actually, with the carbon tax and the Minerals Resource Rent Tax on top, this move is akin to a bit of Balmain folk dancing – ie: kicking an industry when it is down.
And why stop a just coal and CSG? Why not expand it to other areas of the mining sector?
No, he couldn’t do that. It might give people ideas about the MRRT.
Basically, the government has dealt itself into environmental applications regarding coal mining and coal seam gas development applications by amending the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.
The amendment to the EPBC argues that any such development that will have a significant act on a water resource will have to receive federal assessment.
This is something independent member for New England Tony Windsor has been pushing for for some time. He can add it to his accomplishments alongside trying to ban fly-in fly-out work on mine sites.
The states already have a responsibility to assess how a project will affect a major water resource. This is essentially a double dose of regulation.
That is borne out by Burke’s own admission.
“The additional information required in many instances will involve data that has already been collected in the state approval process,” he said.
Burke argues that community expectation has always been that the federal government would take the protection of water sources into account.
“But up until now we have only been able to take account of water to the extent there has been an impact on issues such as threatened species or a Ramsar [as designated by the international Ramsar Convention] wetland,” he said.
Acting Minerals Council of Australia chief executive officer Melanie Stutsel said the proposal to include a water trigger in the EPDC act was a direct duplication of the role of the Independent Expert Scientific Advisory Committee and would lead to greater uncertainty and delays for large coal projects for no environmental gain.
“The legislative power to add environmental safeguards to these projects in relation to their impact on water resources currently exists,” Stutsel said.
“There is no need to increase the regulatory burden on the sector.
“Today’s announcement from the federal government is more focused on increasing the bureaucratic constraints on the coal sector rather than creating the right regulatory environment to expand the industry, creating more jobs and national income.”