Black clouds gathering on CSG horizon – no longer such a gas!

Australia’s controversial coal seam gas industry faces a deeply uncertain future.

Darling Downs Arrow Infrastructure (4) 2010_0523CSG0200CSG field, Qld.

RISING GAS PRICES, the pitched battle over CSG between farmers and miners, the US threat to LNG’s $13.2 billion export bonanza – are all set to spill over into the Federal election campaign. The Greens and Bob Katter are looking to capitalise.

The CSG industry’s hope of rivalling Qatar as the world’s biggest exporter of LNG could be snookered on a couple of fronts — the twin threat to Australia’s competitiveness in the face of a glut of natural gas from the US and the failure to overcome bitter resistance from farmers in key CSG tenements.

Thanks to world-leading extraction technology, oil and gas from the US’s massive shale reserves may see it regain its former “energy super power” title according to the Annual Energy Outlook for 2013.

After weighing up the economic impact on the domestic market, the US Department of Energy gave the green light on LNG exports to boost the flagging US economy.

Having warned that US shale production could be a game-changer two years ago, Deloittes now predicts U.S. LNG projects could displace Australian exports due to a surge in costs of constructing local LNG plants, The Australian reports. Continue reading

Getting down and dirty in New South Wales’ CSG politics

The revolving door culture of self-interest on both sides of NSW politics, means it is difficult to distinguish between government, lobbyists and the CSG industry.

ObeidHartcherEddie Obeid and Chris Hartcher: separated at birth?

I DON’T KNOW about Denmark, but there’s certainly something rotten in the state of New South Wales.

With NSW Labor reeling from corruption charges leveled at former Labor king-maker, Eddie Obeid, today, the O’Farrell government copped similar accusations by Canberra king-maker, Independent MP for New England, Tony Windsor.

Windsor told ABC AM this morning he’d “had enough” of governments seen by the public to be in the pockets of miners who trampled over community sensibilities. He wants to put an end to the game-playing and “Mickey Mouse protocols” that fail to protect water resources from CSG mining.

He’s calling in his half of the bargain for supporting Labor’s mining tax — a new trigger in the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act to protect water quality. Environment minister Tony Burke and the Greens have lined beside him on what is looking like another rancorous debate the CSG industry could do without.

It’s time to get down and dirty to check out the underbelly of the culture of self-interest driving NSW politics. Continue reading

Baillieu’s let ‘er RIP approach to the environment could spell R.I.P.

On Friday, Victoria’s Baillieu government lost its appeal in the Federal Court to overturn a ban on cattle in the heritage-listed Alpine National Park.

Justice Susan Kenny’s decision amounted to a smackdown when she dismissed all four grounds for seeking a judicial review.

The state government (via Victorian taxpayers) may be liable for costs.

Four hundred cattle were re-introduced to the park in 2011 as part of the Victorian Government’s controversial six-year trial, ‘Investigation of fuel and bushfire risk management using strategic cattle grazing’.

Cattle were banned in the park in 2005 by the Bracks Labor government following a thorough report by the Alpine Grazing Taskforce. This followed the banning of cattle in other Alpine National Parks such as Kosciuszko National Park, Brindabella National Park, Namadgi National Park, Baw Baw National Park, Mount Buffalo National Park, Snowy River National Park and Avon Wilderness Park.

The re-introduction was seen as a sop to the Mountain Cattlemen of Victorian for delivering government to the Coalition when their campaign unseated Gippsland East’s Independent MP, Craig Ingram.

The ‘trial’ sparked outrage from environment organisations. The backlash intensified when the ‘trials’ showed extensive damage to the park but delivered little mitigation from bushfires that were generally carried by unpalatable shrubs. Continue reading

Global Warming. What do we do about the United States?

What do we do about the United States?  This essay examines the competing pressures and imperatives that have shaped the U.S. response to global warming and why it has failed, thus far, to assume a leadership role.  It will be discussed how, on the one hand, the U.S. is under pressure from the global community to show leadership, but on the other, is constrained by the imposition of business interests on public policy, institutional barriers, neoliberal political ideology and American unilateralism.

Whilst the Federal government has failed to prosecute its traditional leadership role, the economy is slowly transitioning to a low carbon economy thanks to initiatives by State and institutional forces.  These factors, along with the current devastating drought, are combining to fill the leadership vacuum vacated by Washington.  Genuine progress is now being made to decarbonize the economy.  How significantly this will address the question of what to do about the United States is discussed later in this essay. Continue reading

How MSM Flog Blogs, including Mine!

Bloggers stealing their stories from the mainstream media? If my (Sandi Keane‘s) experiences are any guide, the opposite is more likely to be true (see the full colour presentation with video of the ad on Independent Australia)

MAINSTREAM MEDIA constantly spin the line that online journalists are plagiarists, who – while they wear out “boot-leather” chasing stories – simply re-shovel their hard-earned efforts.

Well, in my experience, the boot is quite often on the other foot.

I’m an online journalist who likes to break stories.  My view is ― why bother to write if you aren’t the first or don’t have an original angle? And I break stories regularly ― through hard, painstaking, detailed, time-consuming – often quite expensive – investigative reporting.

Anyway, this week the mainstream media appropriated my hard-earned investigative efforts without any attribution at all. And this is far from the first time this has happened to me. Continue reading

Winning hearts & minds … with smoke & mirrors

Energy giant Santos’s quest to win the hearts and minds of New South Wales farming communities has backfired after one of its TV ads was exposed as a con.  This story was first published in New Matilda on 6 November 2012 and in Independent Australia on 7 November, 2012.

Santos ad

When Don Hubbard sat down to relax during spring this year after a day’s canola harvesting, he was shocked to see his property and that of his neighbours, Ben and Phoebe Clift, featured in a Santos coal seam gas (CSG) ad on the TV.

Warwick Moppett, Landholder and Farming Consultant, Santos Continue reading

CSI Meets Illegal Loggers

Australian timber company, Simmonds Lumber Group, has taken the lead in helping stamp out the $30 billion illegal logging industry using the ultimate weapon against wrong-doers:  DNA.

The company’s announcement came this week as the federal government’s Illegal Logging Prohibition Bill 2011 passed the House of Representatives.  The bill bans the importation and sale of any wooden products that contain illegally logged timber.

Simmonds Lumber now uses innovative DNA technology developed by the University of Adelaide and Singapore-based DoubleHelix Tracking Technologies.  Just a few wood shavings can provide the tree’s entire history and its source sidelining any would-be fraudsters.

Continue reading