Posted by Steve on December 7, 2010
Responsible Mining and Coal Seam Gas Development for Queensland:
Draft Policy of the Regional Branches of the Queensland Greens
Since 2001Queensland has been in the midst of a massive coal and coal seam gas rush that has intensified since 2008. As stated in the Queensland Greens energy and climate change policy the Queensland Greens have opposed any new coal mines and have called for alternative renewable energy sources since 2009.
However the extent of this boom is not just damaging the global climate and Queensland’s capacity to limit its emissions, it is also radically re-structuring the Queensland economy and the lifestyles of many regional communities.
Rural and regional branches of the Queensland Greens want to restore some balance and responsible limits in the midst of the industry hype. We oppose the narrowing of the state’s economic base by supplanting sustainable industries with an unsustainable, limited-life coal and gas industry, the pollution of Queensland’s limited fresh water sources, losses to the state’s cropping lands and extensive public funding of infrastructure for coal and gas.
This policy supplements, and should be read in conjunction with, the party’s policy on energy and climate change.
- The overwhelming scientific evidence of human-induced global warming demands that each state and nation substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions and begin the transition to a low carbon and energy efficient economy.
- The Greens recognise that Queensland, as the largest coal exporting state in the largest coal exporting country in the world, must stand committed to phasing out the coal industry and implement its replacement with a jobs-rich clean energy economy.
- Coal, underground coal gasification and coal seam gas pose unacceptable threats to existing Queensland industries such as agriculture, grazing and tourism.
- Queensland’s increasing reliance on the export coal industry for economic prosperity imperils our economic future as countries turn away from fossil-fuel based economies and put a price on carbon.
- It is a responsibility of the state government to protect the state’s unique natural assets for present and future generations such as the Great Artesian Basin, the Great Barrier Reef, its agricultural soils and freshwater resources which are under severe threat from the direct and indirect consequences of the mining, drilling, export and burning of coal and coal seam gas.
- Coal mining, underground coal gasification and coal seam gas extraction are land uses which are incompatible with farming, tourism and residential communities because they result in massive damage to:
- the health, social and economic viability of communities in the vicinity of coal mines, gas wells, condensers, coal dumps and coal ports
- bio-diversity and ecosystems through their impacts on rivers, aquifers and the geological integrity of landscapes.
The Queensland Greens want:
- a robust economy built on diverse sectors and not reliant on any one sector for its prosperity.
- the development of a post-carbon Queensland economy that focuses on the development of renewable energy production including universal household solar power, the encouragement of green industries and green practices in all businesses, and world standard transportation infrastructure.
- a mining sector that respects Queensland’s existing industries and towns.
- legislation that recognises that mining is incompatible with all other land uses and so its public benefit needs to be rigorously assessed before being approved.
- protection of all cultivation and grazing lands and the aquifers which sustain them.
- an end to land swaps involving national and marine parks.
- long-term protection of privately owned nature reserves and nationally significant wetlands.
- an EIS process that is affordable and transparent to the public, which truly assesses projects and offers a real opportunity to halt the project if criteria are not met, rather than allowing projects to proceed regardless and then simply seeking to manage environmentally disastrous outcomes.
- a transition strategy to reduce coal exports significantly by 2020 and a total phase out of coal exports by 2030.
The Queensland Greens will:
- amend the Environmental Protection Act 1994 and the Petroleum and Gas (Production and Safety) Act 2004 Mining Act so that mining activities are not exempt from the state’s existing water, vegetation management and pollution laws.
prohibit underground coal gasification which has proven to be inherently polluting.
- place a moratorium on all further CSG development until it can be unequivocally demonstrated that it will not have unacceptable social and environmental impacts.
- exclude all coal mines and coal seam gas extraction from residential areas, cropping lands and catchments for marine parks and world heritage sites.
- only allow coal seam gas extraction when the company can satisfactorily prove that they will have minimal impact on underground aquifers.
- prohibit the storage and burial of CSG salt near any cropping lands and floodplains.
- require any new gas-fired power stations to be truly transitional by requiring the introduction of renewable energy options such as solar or geothermal during development and construction.
- introduce transitional strategies to reduce coal exports by 2020 by:
- refusing to approve any expansion of existing mines
- withdrawing funding for new coal ports at Dudgeon Point and the expansion of Hay Point
- withdrawing funding for any new rail lines unless they will service additional industries or residential communities
- withdrawing funding for new dams such as the Nathan and Connors Dams
- re-directing the $25.5 billion of public funds currently proposed under the Bligh Government’s Coal Infrastructure Program to renewable industries and urgent social services.