Industry hits out at bill

INDUSTRY is ramping up its opposition to the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act Amendment Bill that is being pushed through the Senate.
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Bianca Bartucciotto

The amendment will give the federal government power to regulate the coal seam gas industry to prevent any impact on water resources and to establish penalties to stop such action.

Industry leaders have made submissions to the Senate highlighting that swift action on this front is potentially harmful to the industry.

The amendments are scheduled to be debated in the Senate from May 14.

QGC has hit out at the bill, saying it was delivered too expediently.

“The Senate inquiry follows proposed amendments announced by the government on March 12, 2013 and rushed into Parliament the following day,” it said.

“The bill, which was introduced without any stakeholder consultation, passed the lower house on March 21, 2012.”

Santos said it welcomed the opportunity to provide feedback but feared the proposed changes would only make the regulatory process more convoluted and deliver no environmental benefit.

AGL Energy raised a number of concerns including that there was no scientific evidence showing the need for the amendments, the bill would duplicate the state government process of assessing CSG developments and the redundancy of legislating federal power it already had.

It recommends the bill be withdrawn, as does the Business Council of Australia.

BCA wants the government to ask the CSIRO to undertake research that builds on the work of the Independent Expert Scientific Committee on CSG and large coal mining development to identify the possible impacts of CSG and coal mining on the environment.

It said the CSIRO could flag any potential problems, look at the level and scale of risk and recommend any options to lessen the impacts.

In a stance that is of no surprise to industry, the Lock the Gate Alliance made a submission saying it not only supported the bill but called for it to be extended to shale and tight gas mining.

However, according to leading UK Professor Peter Styles, the depth of drilling in shale gas had no impact on the water table.

Styles said activity on the surface; such as cleaning a car – has more impact on aquifers than shale gas.