Monday, April 30

May 1 Sydney Rally : Reminder



It’s time to stand up and stand together, before it’s too late! Join the rally on May 1
The people who grow our food are coming to Sydney by their thousands with a message for the NSW Government…

Protect our land and water from coal seam gas and irresponsible mining!

The NSW Government promised to protect water, health, agriculture and the environment from CSG and other mining. But their draft plans break this promise.
Under the draft plans:
  • No part of NSW – not the land where food is grown, not our water catchments – is off limits to CSG and other mining
  • Most of the state – including Sydney, the Illawarra and the Northern Rivers – is not covered by land use plans
  • Regions can be converted from rural to industrial landscapes
This rally has been called by the NSW Farmers Association – the people who grow our food. The campaign has brought together a broad group of supporters who want planning that protects productive and sensitive areas and the protection of water across the state – that applies before mining and CSG exploration.
The most powerful force in this country is a community working together to stand up for its rights.

Join the rally on Tuesday May 1: 12 noon – 1:30pm

Meet at Martin Place (between Philip Street and Elizabeth Street) and march to NSW Parliament.

India's demand for coal set to soar



Within the next two decades, India's demand for coal to fire its power stations will dwarf that of China and Japan. Picture: Lyndon Mechielsen Source: The Australian

FORGET coal price forecasts for 2013 in tonnes -- think quadrillion British thermal units in 2035.
That is how Foster Stockbroking projects demand in its latest coal sector review.

The startling figure concerns India. By 2035, it will buy from foreign miners coal equivalent to 7 quadrillion BTUs, compared with Chinese imports 23 years hence being below 4 quadrillion. Japan's demand will decline but the other big market will be Korea and Taiwan, approaching 6 quadrillion BTUs.

So far as thermal coal is concerned, as we reported online on Friday, St Louis-based Peabody Energy is forecasting that new coal-fired power stations coming on line this year will add 300 million tonnes to demand.

By 2017, coalminers will have to dig another 1.3 billion tonnes to fuel new power plants.

Read More

The Australian

Do You Remember This?

Call to stop $1billion Wallarah 2 mine




SPOTLIGHT: NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell third from left, and Alan Hayes, fourth from left, with Central Coast Coalition MPs wearing red anti-Wallarah 2 ‘‘water not coal’’ T-shirts, during the state election campaign.

OPPONENTS of the Wallarah 2 coalmine are calling on Premier Barry O’Farrell to honour an election promise by stopping the controversial $1billion proposal.

As the Newcastle Herald reported yesterday, the Korean government agency Kores intends re-lodging plans for the underground mine, which was rejected by former planning minister Tony Kelly weeks before Labor lost power in March.
 
Dooralong Valley resident Alan Hayes said it should not be allowed to threaten the Central Coast water supply.
 
Mr Hayes released a photograph of himself with Mr O’Farrell and the Coalition’s contingent of Central Coast MPs wearing red anti-Wallarah 2 ‘‘water not coal’’ T-shirts.
 
Former Wyong Labor MP David Harris said that considering the mine for a second time would be the ‘‘ultimate betrayal of the Wyong and Central Coast communities’’.
 
He reminded the government that the Liberal Party had written to the coal alliance, saying that ‘‘if necessary, special legislation will be introduced ... to protect the Wyong water catchment’’.

Newcastle Herald


Editor's Note:   Do you remember this beautiful picture of the NSW Premier, Barry O'Farrell sporting this tshirt?    Do you think that he must of thrown his out?  Or maybe it got lost in the wash?  Or maybe its now in his garage as an old rag?

Greens, CWA unite




UP FOR THE FIGHT: Jenny Rooke (front) with Wendy White, Antoinette Griffiths, Christine and Steve Jordan, Samy Korbi and Tina Thomas


The Greens have joined forces with the Country Womens’ Association and farmers for the first time in history to protect agricultural land from coal mining and the effects of coal seam gas mining.

The groups are concerned about the state government’s strategic regional land use policy, which Maitland Greens co-convener Wendy White said does not give landholders protection against coal companies or the government.
 
The policy states cabinet can declare a project to be of exceptional circumstance if the resource is of exceptional value to the state.
 
Ms White fears the Hunter Valley could become the quarry of Australia and the government could use its power in the legislation to call “exceptional circumstance” frequently to boost coal production.
 
“The government has failed to protect the Hunter Region in their legislation from mining and coal seam gas,” she said. “Landowners need to know people can’t come in and stomp on their land and use it, the government needs to tell them what areas are a no-go zone for coal mining.

Read More

Maitland Mercury

Government warned: Don't try to divide farmers and environmentalists

The Lock the Gate Alliance has warned the New South Wales Coalition that it risks losing the support of much of the rural vote it received at the last election if it continued to pursue its current policies on mining and coal seam gas.
 
Lock the Gate president Drew Hutton said the Coalition would make a giant miscalculation if it thought it could get its policies through by driving a wedge between groups participating in the "Protect our Land and Water" rally on Tuesday, 1 May.
 
"Organisations like Lock the Gate, the Farmers Association, the CWA, GetUp and the Nature Conservation Council, and community groups such as Stop CSG Illawarra and Stop CSG Sydney are united in their objective of getting the land and water resources of the state protected from irresponsible resource extraction," Mr Hutton said.
 
"The Coalition should be more worried about the fact that probably the majority of members of Lock the Gate is made up of farmers and other rural landowners who vote for either the Liberals or the Nationals."
 
Mr Hutton will be one of the five speakers on the platform on Tuesday representing the Lock the Gate Alliance, an umbrella organisation for more than 140 groups across New South Wales and Queensland. 
 
 
Drew Hutton
Lock The Gate

Powell Assures No Harm Done in Gas Drilling Leak

A RIVER has not been damaged by the leaking of drilling fluid linked to a coal seam gas project, authorities say.

The leak happened in the Condamine River in Queensland's south-west, which is part of the Murray-Darling Basin and supplies nearby towns and farms with water for drinking and irrigation.

Contractors for the coal seam gas company QGC were drilling under the river to make way for a pipeline to the state's gas hub in Gladstone when drilling fluid leached into the river.
The river is a habitat for the Murray cod, which is listed as vulnerable.

The Environment Minister, Andrew Powell, said a limited amount of fluid had seeped from the drill hole but had since been contained within a wall of sandbags and pumped out.

SMH

Coal or wind in your backyard?

If you’re going to ‘pick winners’ from the energy market, you at least want to choose wisely. So it’s hard to see why Victorian laws treat coal and coal seam gas more favourably than renewable energy.

The Environment Defenders Office (Victoria) (EDO) released a report last week that finds Victoria’s laws give the mining industry privileged treatment that few other industries enjoy. In particular, they now make it easier to obtain approval for a coal mine than a wind farm in Victoria.

The planning rules for wind farms introduced by the state government last year are some of the toughest that apply to any type of development anywhere in the country. No new wind projects have been proposed in Victoria since they have been introduced.

At the same time, the government has moved to relax the laws that apply to new mining projects, developing a strategy to encourage brown coal export in Victoria, and initiating a Parliamentary Inquiry to identify and remove barriers to further ‘Greenfields’ minerals exploration and mining.

That Parliamentary Inquiry is due to table its report tomorrow. Let’s hope it considers the following differences between the treatment of coal mines and wind farms in Victoria:


Climate Spectator

A 2nd Sydney Protest Rally On May 1ST! : AGL

Outside the AGL HQ at 101 Miller Street, North Sydney @ 2.30PM on Tuesday, 1st May 2012.

Barrington-Gloucester-Stoud Preservation Alliance would LOVE your support after the city rally commencing in Martin Place at 12noon.

The presence of banners and signs of all kinds also very welcome!

North Sydney is 1 trainstop from Wynyard.

‘Greater good’ is a myth

Leader columnist and Maules Creek farmer Phil Laird will be one of the rural types protesting in Sydney tomorrow as farmers take on the government over the its draft strategic land use policy and the mining and resources exploration encroachment on agricultral lands. Here’s his opinion on a topic of dissent and discontent.

I HAD to laugh when reading a comment from coal seam gas proponent and state government MLC Scot Macdonald regarding the “greater good” for NSW.
 
Unfortunately, it is not funny, if this thinking is guiding the contentious mining and land use policy of the O’Farrell government.
 
The myth of the “greater good” usually comes with negatives and is often used to justify a range of unwelcome outcomes, including wars and torture.
 
Individuals and their economic interests, amenity and health are reduced to “things” to be used and traded off against other “things”, such as individual wealth and political power.
 
What is conveniently lost is the nature and distribution of the supposed good. It is often argued that a monetary benefit to one person, when compared to the unmeasured cost to the environment and the community, must be for the greater good. Anyone with a different view is a NIMBY or a Green.

Read More

Northern Daily Leader

CSG protest heads for Sydney




DIRTGIRL has put her foot down.

For the first time in her illustrious career, the international children's TV starlet will take a political stand on an environmental issue - coal-seam gas (CSG).

Dirtgirl creators Cate McQuillen and Hewey Eustace will hit the road this morning with dirtgirl in toe to join an expected mass gathering of anti-CSG protesters in Sydney tomorrow for a rally at Parliament House over the NSW Government's recently released draft Regional Landuse Policy.

"Dirtgirl is a sustainable farmer and she's an eco-warrior," said proud mum Ms McQuillen last night from her Whiporie home.

"She needs to stand shoulder to shoulder with the people of the Northern Rivers who have always loved and supported her."

Read More

Daily Examiner

Mining Boom Contributing to Koala Decline

Australia's iconic marsupial has declined by 75% since 1993 in Gunnedah, the "koala capital of the world".

The mining boom isn’t benefitting all Australians: koalas are bearing the brunt of the industry’s vast expansion across their habitats.

According to research conducted in areas highly populated by the furry marsupials, koala numbers are one the decline and they are expected to be listed as a ‘threatened’ species comes Monday, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.

Read More and Watch Video

Business Review Australia

Nationals split on CSG rules



One of many recent CSG protest rallies, in this case about 100 people turned out at Tuncester hall.


NSW Nationals are calling on the Government to toughen up its draft Strategic Land Use Policy because it does not meet the party's expectations.

The call signals a split between the Parliamentary wing of the NSW Nationals and its NSW Sate branch.

However, Ballina MP Don Page yesterday denied a split, but admitted there were differences of opinion within the party about the policy.

"We recognise there are issues (relating to the policy) which need to be addressed," Mr Page said.

He said the Nationals parliamentary party would discuss the issues raised by the NSW State branch of the party and would make no comment until then.

Read More

Northern Star

NCC/NCEC regional conference on Mining in regional NSW: 5-6th May Coffs Harbour

The Nature Conservation Council of NSW (NCC) and conference hosts North Coast Environment Council (NCEC) have announced an exciting regional conference agenda for 2012, in Coffs Harbour on May 5 and 6.

Saturday, May 5, the focus will be on mining. With Coal Seam Gas threatening to devour the Northern Rivers, Coal eating up the Hunter Valley and Antimony and Gold huge threats to the Dorrigo Plateau and the coastal rivers including the Macleay and Clarence...
 
 
Mid North Coast Greens

Minister warns anti-coal seam gas group will 'turn on farmers'

The NSW Resources and Energy Minister, Chris Hartcher, has written to newspapers in regional and rural areas seeking to discredit groups involved in an anti-coal seam gas protest outside State Parliament tomorrow, warning they will "turn on" farmers.
 
The rally is being supported by the NSW Farmers Association, the Nature Conservation Council and other groups opposed to the state government's draft strategic land use policy for where and how coal and coal seam gas mining and exploration may occur.
 
The groups say the government has reneged on an election promise to quarantine sensitive agricultural and environmental land from mining exploration.
 
In the letter, Mr Hartcher says organisers of one of the groups, Stop CSG Illawarra, belong to the Socialist Alliance, a political party whose agriculture policy includes "sharply reducing cattle and sheep numbers … to minimise methane emissions per head".
 
He says another group, GetUp, "has continuing campaigns to ban live cattle exports".
 
"Now that the government has toughened controls on CSG activities, these protest groups will soon turn on NSW farmers," Mr Hartcher warns.

Read More

Hunter Valley News

Drilling fluid leaks into Murray-Darling

DRILLING fluid linked to a coal seam gas (CSG) project has leaked into a Queensland river that is part of the Murray-Darling Basin.

The leak occurred when contractors for coal seam gas company QGC were drilling to run a pipeline underneath the Condamine River in Queensland's southwest.

Environment Minister Andrew Powell released a statement today saying his department was investigating the spill but he did not say when the incident occurred or how much fluid polluted the river.

He said a limited amount of fluid seeped from the drill hole but had since been contained within a wall of sandbags and pumped out.

Drilling has stopped at the site while an investigation is underway.

Mr Powell said his department wants to address the risk of further potential impacts.
"Work will not resume until the department has reviewed the assessment and decided whether the operation can be undertaken without further impact," Mr Powell said.

"The operations of coal seam gas companies and their contractors are being closely monitored and where necessary, changes will be made to operational practices to ensure environmental safety is maintained."

More comment has been sought from Mr Powell.

news.com.au

Council voices concerns on coal seam gas

Mid-Western Regional Council has called on the State Government to provide more protection for landowners, the community and the environment in its draft code of practice for coal seam gas exploration.

Councillors will this week consider a submission on the draft code of practice which is intended to balance the rights and concerns of private land owners with access for coal seam gas explorers.
 
While the submission states that the government’s attempts to introduce a code of practice should be supported, it raises a number of concerns relating to landowners’ rights and protection of water and land.
 
Council’s submission calls for stronger measures to ensure all legal expenses incurred by the landholder are paid by the coal seam gas explorer, including the cost to landowners of engaging solicitors to act on their behalf in relation to access negotiations.
 
Council also wants explorers to be required to provide specific details of all chemicals brought onto a site, as well as safety information sheets, with landholders to have the right to refuse use of any chemicals, since they are ultimately responsible for any chemicals on their land.

Read More

Mudgee Guardian

China Drops Axe on Mine Spend after Interference



Delays … an approval for the Liverpool Plains mine took seven months. Photo: Louise Kennerley

THE Chinese government has delivered a damning verdict on doing business in NSW, pulling the plug on a planned $10 billion in mining-related investments across Australia.

The Shenhua Group, which has spent $600 million developing a coal mine in Gunnedah, in northern NSW, will no longer pursue plans to spend a further $9 billion across the country, The Sun-Herald has learnt.

According to mining industry sources, Shenhua told the department of the federal Resources Minister, Martin Ferguson, that it would take its money elsewhere. The energy company will instead invest in mining projects in Africa and closer to home in Mongolia.


The Sun Herald

The vast antique Pilliga Forest

When word went out to environment groups, students and regional media that another Coal Seam Gas tour of Australia’s most threatened semi-arid forest was on, the response was wide and enthusiastic. Last Friday in front of the National Park’s Pilliga Forest Discovery Centre in Barradine, a large group from all ages and walks of life, gathered for the tour.

 Coming from Queensland to ACT and points in between, the group assembled to find out more about the Pilliga Forest and the threat of coal seam gas. Inside the discovery centre at Barradine, displays show the diversity of wildlife to be found in this vast antique forest.

While there will be no coal seam gas mining within the National Park boundaries, the danger to wildlife and habitat in the adjoining Pilliga State Forest and State Conservation areas is imminent, according to the tour organizer Pat Schulz of Armidale Action Against Coal Seam Gas. Mining company Santos has an application with the NSW Government for a license for 1100 new coal seam gas wells to be placed in a web like grid through 850 square kilometres of the Eastern Pilliga.

Author: Jacinta Green

Read More

CoalSeamGasNews

Palmer to challenge for Swan's seat

Queensland mining magnate Clive Palmer has denied tempting fate as he revealed plans to run against Wayne Swan for federal parliament on the same day he announced a deal to build a modern version of the doomed Titanic.

The controversial billionaire - who has a record of backtracking after high-profile announcements - revealed the plans in two separate press conferences in Brisbane today.

Mr Palmer said he had put in an expression of interest to stand for Queensland's Liberal National Party (LNP) in the Brisbane seat of Lilley at the next election.

He denied the move was a stunt, declaring it "a factual reality".

"I have done this because the Treasurer and myself both have clear different visions of where this country should go," he said.

"I believe we should be getting bigger and stronger, creating more wealth for our people, so that we have more money to distribute to the things that need to be done in this country.

Read More

ABC News

No Coal seam gas fracking our farms

Thursday, April 26

Blatchford encourages protestors

Hundreds will flood Martin Place to protest against the NSW Government’s recently released Strategic Land Use Policy.
 
Chair of the Bellata/Gurley Coal Seam Gas Action Group Penny Blatchford will be in attendance.
 
“Landholders and farmers are not the only ones who should get involved with this rally,” Mrs Blatchford said. “It’s for anyone who doesn’t like the decisions that the government is making in regards to CSG mining on our land.”
 
The Protect Our Land and Water Rally has been organised by NSW Farmers, headed by president Fiona Simson.
 
Ms Simson believes the failings of the draft policy had struck a nerve not only in rural NSW but with business leaders and councils in both cities and towns. Ms Simson believes the government fails to recognise that our food, water, health, jobs and the future of our communities are under threat if our land and water is not properly mapped and protected.
“The decision to rally has not been taken lightly; protecting our precious land and water is an issue which affects everyone in NSW,” Ms Simson said.
 
Mrs Blatchford is trying to rally support from our region. “We need to be heard; I understand it’s a long way to make the trip but every voice counts,” she said. A bus will be organised by NSW Farmers. Contact them, state your location and a bus will pick you up.
 
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Vocal opposition to coal seam gas mining

NSW Resources and Energy Minister Chris Hartcher told a local audience a balance needed to be found between the state's energy needs and their concerns over the environmental impacts of coal-seam gas mining at a public forum on Saturday.

But local anti-coal seam gas protesters say they don't want mining on their land or near water catchments.
 
More than 70 people were at the Rivers SOS regional meeting at Cawdor Public School to hear details of the government's draft strategic land-use and aquifer-interference policies.
Mr Hartcher was joined by Labor's environment spokesman Luke Foley and NSW Greens mining spokesman Jeremy Buckingham as well as local MPs and councillors.
 
Members concerned about the expansion of coal mining and coal seam gas extraction in the area were vocal during the panel discussion.
 
Mr Foley said the government's draft strategic regional land-use policy fell short of what was promised. "It provides no comfort and it certainly doesn't deliver on the election promise of no-go areas," he said.

Read More

Campbelltown Macarthur Advertiser

Queensland Government considers making register of CSG agreements public

Queensland Government ministers are this week discussing a public register of coal seam gas company payments to landholders.

The LNP campaigned for last month's election on a platform that included the register.
It says making the deals public will allow farmers to make informed decisions about land access agreements.

The farmer lobby group AgForce opposes mandatory disclosure of private arrangements, saying also that it's not fair to compare individual farming enterprises.

The group which represents the CSG industry, the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association, says it has no issue with the public disclosure of agreements.

It says industry has for some time agreed to remove confidentiality clauses from agreements when requested by the landholder.


ABC Rural

Broncos' chief defends coal sponsorships

BRISBANE chief executive Paul White yesterday was forced to defend his club's sponsorship by two mining companies involved in coal-seam gas projects -- an issue that is causing deep divisions in Queensland and NSW.
AngloAmerican and Arrow Energy have partnered with the Broncos, putting the club at odds with the farming community.

White told shareholders at Brisbane's annual meeting that sponsorship agreements with global coal giant AngloAmerican, signed in 2010, and Arrow Energy, a deal finalised this year, would help grow the Broncos brand not just in Australia but also globally.

He said independent research by Roy Morgan found the Broncos have a nationwide fan base of 1.3 million and enjoyed a television audience last season of 25 million -- the best of any Australian club in any code and a powerful brand for unpopular mining companies to attach themselves to.


The Australian

Group urges compulsory CSG compo register

A landholders' group says farmers should be made to reveal their compensation agreements with coal seam gas (CSG) companies.

The Queensland Government wants to establish a public register so farmers can make informed decisions about land access agreements.

Rural lobby group AgForce says the register should be voluntary.

However, Heidi Ross from Keep the Scenic Rim Scenic says a compulsory register will increase transparency.

Read More 

E Farming

Tree-changers fear loss if mine proceeds




Michael Bowman, at home in Forbesdale. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Residents who established new lives in rural Gloucester before details of a planned open-cut coalmine were made public say they have the most to lose if the project goes ahead.

Described last year by a councillor as "superannuated retirees" who "moved to Gloucester to become shit-stirrers", the residents are taking the possible effects on their property values of the proposed Rocky Hill mine very seriously.
 
One of the newer arrivals, Michael Bowman, is helping the newly formed Forbesdale Residents Action Group to represent people whose properties are the most vulnerable if Gloucester Resources Limited's project is approved.
 
Mr Bowman estimated there were about 30 properties especially at risk, including all 19 properties that formed the Forbesdale estate, a residential area south of Gloucester.
Some of these houses are less than one kilometre from the proposed mine site.
 
Mr Bowman said about 11 of the 30 property owners moved to the area less than 10 years ago for a change of lifestyle.He and his wife Carolyn, a teacher, moved to the estate in 2005 from Sydney.
 
Read More 
 
Newcastle Herald

Hartcher commits NSW to coal

THE NSW Government is committed to restarting the State's economy and will do so by developing resources, Resources and Energy Minister Chris Hartcher told the Government sponsored Minerals Exploration and Investment Conference in Sydney last week.

"NSW is a coal state, it's prosperity is founded on coal and one would hope the debate about coal would be conducted within the parameters of rationality rather than irrationality, a framework based on reason and science, not simple emotion," he said.
 
He said moving to renewable energy "could not be done with the flick of a switch" and coal seam gas as a transitional fuel was essential.
 
"Let's get rid of gas (they say), let's get rid of coal and somehow we'll all wake up in the new promised land.
 
"Ordinary people recognise the irrationality of that, but to have senior people in the social, economic and political framework actually arguing those propositions is the challenge we face in the government and in the minerals industry."
 
"There are many legitimate concerns over water, environment and farmland but we need to address them and work through, accepting a fundamental premise - that mining is at the very heart of the economy of this state."

Read More

The Land

ConocoPhillips rethinks Gladstone gas expansion




Curtis Island liquefied natural gas projects are likely to be scaled back because of a gas glut in the US. Lyndon Mechielsen Source: The Australian

THE prospect of further coal-seam gas export investments continue to dim, with US major ConocoPhillips saying what had once been touted as Gladstone's biggest potential liquefied natural gas project may not expand beyond a second production train.
Conoco, which with partner Origin Energy has previously flagged a four-train project at its Australia Pacific LNG project, told US investors it was unsure if building a third train was the right way to advance what the pair have billed as the nation's biggest and best CSG reserves.

The comments follow BG Group taking its foot off the accelerator at its Gladstone plant earlier this year in favour of pursuing gas exports from the US, where there is a glut of shale gas, to meet its near-term targets.

There are also signs that the proponents of $60 billion of LNG plants planned at Gladstone are facing challenges developing the onshore production needed to supply the huge needs of the plants when they start in 2014 and 2015.


The Australian

Pitless Drilling: A Strategy For Coexistence



Michael Moloney of MI-Swaco setting up the flocculation unit at Arrow Energy’s pitless drilling trial near Miles.

Pitless drilling is being trialled by Arrow Energy to improve coexistence on its tenements with good quality agricultural land.  The trial is also expected to produce cost savings through reducing drilling waste and fluid handling and disposal costs.

Producing CSG on good quality agricultural land.

Arrow has been producing CSG in Queensland's Surat Basin since 2006. The company currently has 300 gas production wells located across four CSG fields centred around Dalby.
The Surat Basin is a large coal bearing sequence in central southern Queensland covering approximately 270,000 km2. It forms part of the Great Artesian Basin that spans much of inland Australia.

Arrow estimates there is 18,000 PJ of gas available from its Surat Basin tenements, far exceeding the State's current domestic gas needs of 150 PJ. Like other Queensland CSG proponents Origin, Santos and QGC, Arrow is planning a CSG-LNG export industry via developing a LNG plant off Gladstone.

Arrow's exploration tenements within the Surat Gas Project area have a significantly different tenure profile to the other Queensland CSG-LNG proponents. A large proportion of the Surat Gas Project area contains some of the most productive agricultural soils in the world and is classed as good quality agricultural land and/or strategic cropping land.

Read More

PNR Online

Voters share views as ALP MPs listen

OATLEY voters got a chance on Tuesday to tell the NSW Opposition how to improve its chances in the 2015 election. At least 50 people were at Penshurst RSL for the "Labor listens" community cabinet meeting with Opposition Leader John Robertson and about 10 cabinet members.

Mr Robertson said the Opposition was making an effort to reconnect to the community, re-establish trust and give people the chance to bring their ideas to Labor. "If we get into office we want to be ready," he said.
 
The meeting, hosted by Hurstville mayor Steve McMahon, was a question and answer session.
 
¦   A public servant asked Mr Robertson what he intended to do about Labor politicians' appalling behaviour towards public servants, which included bullying and corruption.
Mr Robertson said he would not tolerate any bad behaviour; ethics training was a must for all politicians and he intended to lead by example.

A unionist and ALP member of almost 40 years said he was concerned about the erosion between the ALP and the unions while another voiced concern about the breakdown of relations between the parliamentary representatives and voters. Mr Robertson said the ALP and the unions would always have a relationship and acknowledged that work had to be done to mend relations with voters.
 
¦ A school teacher wanted Labor to promise there would be no "casualisation of education", which would be the end result of the Liberals' "local schools — local decisions" move.
Mr Robertson said he would hold the Liberals to account on this.
 
¦ An environmentalist brought attention to long-term water quality in light of today's emphasis on coal seam gas mining.


St George & Sutherland Shire Leader

Christchurch declared fracking-free

Christchurch has been declared a fracking-free zone.

The Christchurch City Council unanimously voted to take a stance against the controversial mining practice at a meeting today.

Fracking - hydraulic fracturing - involves injecting chemicals into rocks to fracture them in an attempt to release oil and natural gas.

It has been banned in some countries after concerns over water and air pollution, and has been linked to earthquakes.

The Spreydon-Heathcote Community Board had asked the council to declare the city fracking-free because of concerns about the environmental impact and the quake claims.
Board member Paul McMahon said the council needed to take a stance against fracking as the Government had declined to intervene.

"What we're saying is, stick up for your local people, because central government isn't listening," he said.

Read More

The Press

A Solid start for NZ UCG pilot plant

Solid Energy has successfully commissioned its $22 million underground coal gasification pilot plant near Huntly in the Waikato region, New Zealand, and the plant is now producing synthetic gas from coal.

Solid Energy said that it believes it is the first in the world to access energy from a single coal field using four different technologies: underground mining, open-cast mining, CSG, and underground coal gasification (UCG).

The company said that UCG can access energy from deep coal seams that are uneconomic using conventional mining technology and, compared to conventional mining, has significantly reduced environmental impacts and safety risks.

Read More 

Gas Today

Lock the Gate Alliance call its members to action on 1 May


Lock the Gate Alliance President Drew Hutton has called on every citizen of New South Wales who cares about protecting our agricultural land, water and natural environment from irresponsible mining to stand up and make their voices heard on 1 May.

“Lock the Gate jumped at the chance to be involved in the rally and I am glad to be able to... speak to the broad movement that has built up around this issue in NSW, Mr Hutton said.

“Lock the Gate represents groups all over NSW from many different backgrounds including groups like those in the North Coast and in urban areas who have been left out of the Draft Land Use Plans. I will be a voice for those communities who have been left out of the plans and for those fearful that the plans will not protect our land and water.

“First things first, I am asking our members, supporters and the general public from across the state to travel on Sydney on 1 May for a major Rally at the NSW Parliament.

“But if people can’t make the rally, May 1 is the day for the community to make a phone call or send an email to their local member of parliament to explain why they want land and water protected from mining in this state.

“I am excited by the opportunity to march alongside groups like the NSW Farmers Association, the Country Women’s Association, New South Wales Nature Conservation Council, GetUp and others with a common message to protect our land and water.

“But protecting just the best of the best agricultural land will see productive country left to the miners. This isn’t good enough and at an time when food security is becoming all-important, it is inexcusable for a Government to leave this land vulnerable to mining.

“The rally next week is extremely important to show the NSW Government that they will not be allowed to ignore the community on this issue.

“The Government made a promise to protect our agricultural land and sensitive environments and Lock the Gate along with the organisations supporting this rally is here to hold them to that promise, “ Mr Hutton said.

Contact: Drew Hutton 0428 487 110

Tuesday, April 24

Farmers to rally for resources

NSW Farmers regional members are busy preparing to attend their rally in Sydney on May 1 when they will demand the NSW Government deliver on its promise to protect land and water resources in NSW.

The Protect our Land and Water rally has been organised following the release of the government’s Strategic Regional Land Use Policy which fails to deliver on the Liberal and National Party’s clear election commitments.
 
Thousands of people including community leaders, industry groups, conservationists and concerned citizens from across NSW are expected to walk from Martin Place to Parliament House on the day.
 
Meanwhile, three new groups have joined the campaign alliance and rally including Rivers SOS, Total Environment Centre, and Stop CSG Sydney
 
They join a broad range of agricultural, environmental and concerned citizens groups including Caroona Coal Action Group, Country Women’s Association, Hunter Thoroughbred Breeders Association, Hunter Valley Wine Industry Association, Lock the Gate Alliance, Nature Conservation Council of NSW, Southern Highlands Coal Action Group and GetUp!
NSW Farmers president, Fiona Simson, said the decision to rally was not taken lightly.

Read More

Manning River Times

Coal film screens in Taree



A DOCUMENTARY film about coal expansion in Australia will be screened in Taree this Thursday (April 26), in a bid to raise awareness of what is happening in parts of Australia.

The deadline for submissions to the NSW Government’s proposed Strategic Regional Land Use Policy is on May 3 and the organisers hope this documentary may prompt people to write to the government with their concerns - particularly as coal mining and coal seam gas extraction is a big issue in the Gloucester region.
 
The documentary Bimblebox was shown at Byron Bay Film Festival and a guest speaker at the Taree screening will be Graham Brown from the Hunter Valley, who features in the film.
 
The screening will be at the Uniting Church hall, Albert Street, Taree, at 6.30pm on Thursday April 26.
 
Entry is $5 per person, which will go towards the costs of making the film.
 
Haw River Films and the owners of Bimblebox Nature Refuge teamed up to produce a film aimed at drawing international attention to the issue surrounding the huge expansion of coal and coal seam gas mining in Australia (particularly the expansions planned in Queensland and New South Wales).


Manning River Times

Women want to see red over CSG

WHETHER it's a dash of fiery lipstick or full scarlet get-up, females who want to show their true colours against CSG exploration are being encouraged to wear red next Tuesday.

Over the weekend a Facebook group, Women Against Coal Seam Gas, was set up with about 100 women signing up in one day.

Organiser and Daily Examiner photographer Debrah Novak said the group supported CWA women and rural women and their families who will be marching in Sydney next Tuesday.
"It is clearly obvious the political parties are not listening, so the tagline "No means no" sits well with this campaign," she said.

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Daily Examiner

Coalition ‘broke a promise'

THE LIBERAL National Party coalition has broken its election promise to protect rural communities from coal seam gas extraction, according to the NSW Farmers Federation which is not going to let them forget it.

To make their case, a protest called the Protect our Land and Water Rally has been organised to march to Parliament House in Sydney next Tuesday.

"The government has not delivered on its pre-election promise to protect agricultural land and water," Michael Burt, regional manager for the NSW Farmers Federation said.

The government's Strategic Regional Land Use Policy does not deliver "upfront planning protection that clearly sets out where CSG extraction can and cannot take place," he said.

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Daily Examiner

Origin's BassGas cost blowout

ORIGIN'S BassGas cost up $100m to $460m, completion due September. 

The cost blowout will add pressure to the integrated energy company's balance sheet as it starts construction of a $19.5 billion gas-export joint venture, APLNG, in Queensland.

BassGas produces natural gas, condensate and liquid petroleum gas sourced from the Yolla field situated 147 kilometers off the coast of  Victoria. It went live in 2006 with the intention of meeting around 10 percent  of Victoria's gas demand for 15 years, The Australian reports.
In 2009, Origin announced an upgrade to the Yolla platform to install extra compression capacity and on-platform accommodation for workers to boost efficiency and extend the life of the project.

Analysts at Macquarie said the latest delay at BassGas "will do little to settle the market's existing concern over the development of risks" associated with the APLNG gas-export venture, despite its limited relevance to the project. Origin earlier experienced delays with the original BassGas development, the Otway gas project and the Mortlake power station.


Weekly Times Now

Ohio Pooling Laws Allow Drilling Even Where Owners Object

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Retired police officer Ed Hashbarger is watching in anger as drillers converge on his part of eastern Ohio, at times gaining access to coveted oil and gas deposits through a state law that can trump objections of individual property owners.

The U.S. Army veteran contends the practice called mandatory pooling violates his constitutional rights, his Catholic faith — which calls for safeguarding the environment — and what his country stands for.

"We do not defend the United States of America so the government can strip me of my rights to my land," said Hashbarger, who expects his land in Bloomingdale will soon be pooled as such deals engulf neighboring properties. "I'm furious over the whole thing."

Mandatory pooling gives drillers the ability to overcome a landowner's objections to drilling on his property if enough neighbors have agreed to the well drilling. The resisting landowner is paid for the oil or gas taken.

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Hufifngton Post Green

Gas Commission has a big job ahead of it

THERE is a mammoth job ahead of the new Queensland Gasfields Commission and the State Government if they are to meet the targets of restoring balance to coal seam gas expansion, and ensuring the best outcomes for regional communities as new projects race ahead.

The Commission, announced less than one week ago and with well-respected agri-political identity John Cotter at its helm, has been tasked with collecting community feedback and striking the right balance in the interests of landholders, community groups and the environment.

It is very positive sign from the Newman Government that it has worked so quickly to fulfil its election commitment of establishing this commission, although the coming weeks and months of the Gas Commission’s infancy will be the real test to see if it can bring about a much more positive framework for the CSG industry.

QFF sees that initially the Commission’s top three primary roles are clear. It must facilitate open communication for all stakeholders, it must take a strong role and have oversight of the process for negotiating land access agreements to ensure they are conducted fairly and appropriately, and it must step into role of understanding the risks, hazards, responses and in some cases opportunities associated with groundwater management.

The Government must also give the commission legislative firepower to ensure it can do its job effectively, which includes mechanisms for enforcing the correct procedures and policy.


By Joanne Grainger, QFF President
Queensland Farmers Federation

CSG campaigner wants MP to quit




Michael McNamara, pictured with wife Julie, wants Lismore MP Thomas George to resign over comments he has made in support of coal seam gas.

TWEED coal seam gas campaigner says Lismore MP Thomas George, whose electorate includes Murwillumbah, should resign because of his apparent support for the controversial energy source.

Michael McNamara said Mr George was not representing his constituents' views.

"And if he finds himself unable to do that he should resign," Mr McNamara said.

"Communities in Mr George's electorate have overwhelmingly come out against CSG."
Mr George did not respond to My Daily News calls yesterday.

Mr McNamara said 99% support from locals was thrown behind the launch of a CSG-free communities strategy last week at The Channon.

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My Daily News

Local farmers outline their future challenges

Invasive pests and weeds and the future of mining and clean energy have been raised as major issues of concern to farmers in the Bathurst and Oberon region.

About 300 landholders took part in the New South Wales Farmers' Association's region six forum at the weekend.

The region's chairman, John Lowe, says there were presentations on alternative energy, workers' compensation and disease and biosecurity.

He says it was also a chance for the Association to discuss where it should direct its resources in the future.

"We had an hour session dealing with some of the issues that New South Wales farmers are dealing with at the moment and that covered such topics as invasive animals, invasive plant species," he said.

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ABC News

Gas shortage looms as LNG demand grows

GAS producers and analysts have backed domestic buyers' concerns over a looming shortage of east coast gas as three massive LNG plants being built at Gladstone threaten to use all of Queensland's available coal-seam gas supply.
Former Santos chief executive John Ellice-Flint, who pioneered the company's move into CSG exports, said it would be a challenge to meet the demands of the three plants being built at Gladstone, each with two production trains (plants).

"You've got six trains starting simultaneously," Mr Ellice-Flint, who is now an executive director at CSG junior Blue Energy, told the Australian Business program on Sky.

"That's a huge challenge, but I've got a lot of confidence the industry is going to be able to meet that challenge.

"Does that leave enough gas for domestic demand? Probably not in the short term."


The Australian

Government "Sold a Pup" With Murray Water Plan

Australia will be ''seriously embarrassed around the world'' if the Murray-Darling Basin Authority's controversial draft water plan goes ahead, a leading water economist says.
''It will lock us into failure - the design is wrong,'' executive director of the University of Adelaide's environment institute, Professor Mike Young, told a Senate rural affairs inquiry yesterday.

One of Australia's top hydrologists, former NSW chief scientist Professor John Williams, also told the inquiry the plan was ''misleading, simplistic and deceptive'' and should be withdrawn by the Gillard government.

Professor Williams, who recently retired as NSW Natural Resources Commissioner, told the Senate committee he was so alarmed by errors, omissions and ''poor science'' in the plan, he wrote directly to federal Environment Minister Tony Burke, calling for an urgent independent scientific review.

'' I think we're being sold a pup,'' Professor Williams said.

Canberra Times

On aggregate, Penrice Soda Holdings sees growth in mining and coal-seam gas

THE nation's only maker of soda ash and bicarbonate, Penrice Soda Holdings, has secured another $4 million from its bankers.
The company is also confident an increase in the construction aggregates resource at its marble and limestone mine at Angaston could make the mine more saleable and thus reduce its debt pile.

In a market update yesterday, the Adelaide-based Penrice reiterated its previous guidance that it expects to make a loss in 2011-12 and that its second-half performance will be stronger than the first.

"To announce no more bad news is certainly a positive for Penrice in the current environment," chief executive Guy Roberts said.

The company's banking syndicate has agreed to an increase of $4m in its short-term loan facilities.

The company's drawn-down term bank debt now stands at $93.8m. Its share price fell below 8c last week, down from above 15c last November.

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The Australian

Australia's boomtown curse




Natural resources are powering Australia's economy to record highs, but is there a dark side to the mining boom?

Australia is blessed with rugged beauty and a wealth of natural resources - including coal, iron, natural gas and gold. Such minerals are powering Australia's economy to record highs. And as demand from China for more resources grows, new mines continue to open across the country. But critics say there is a dark side to this success story. Mining regions attract transient workers keen to make a quick buck, creating social and environmental problems and a rising crime rate. Mines are also draining Australia's pool of skilled labour from other industries and driving up wages. 101 East asks: What is the cost of Australia's mining boom?

Here Australian 101 East fixer Sian Gard takes us behind the scenes of the 12-day film shoot with reporter-producer Chan Tau Chou and cameraman Lee Ali.

When you travel what is the worst thing that could happen? Some might say missing a flight, others might say you get crammed into the centre seat on a full flight. But when you are part of a film crew, one of the more difficult challenges is travelling with 181 kilogrammes of camera equipment.

When an international film crew from Al Jazeera English calls you and says they want to come to Australia and film a story about the mining industry in two weeks time, the first thing you say is "I would love to be a part of this incredible story". The second thing you do? Start working fast.

The scope and depth of the mining industry, its impact on the country and the state can be broken down into small digestible chunks as political, economic and social, but the bigger picture is a great deal more complicated. The Australian mining industry has seen exponential growth over the last 10 years with increasing exports to China.

Western Australia, considered the economic hub of the country, now holds the nation's purse strings and is host to some of the world's most influential mining and resource sector companies. Perth, considered the second-most isolated city in the world, has seen changes on many fronts that not only includes an increase in resource dollars but a higher cost of living, a politically strong liberal state government and increasing financial disparity between mining and resource sector employees and everyone else. So how does one get all these issues into one story? You make phone calls and lots of them.

One-hundred-and-eighty-one kilogrammes of camera equipment and an introductory dinner later, we are off filming in Perth and Karratha. We have 12 days to interview a range of people invested in the mining and resources sector in various ways. Finance experts, counsellors who see the downside of living a Fly-In-Fly-Out (FIFO) lifestyle, business operators who say their home towns are dying due to the mining industry and police who are left to clean up the alcohol and drug fuelled mess from workers blowing off steam.

The biggest challenge of a shoot on this scale? Distance, time and getting people to talk on camera. Logistically, organising a film shoot for a crew that is flying from Malaysia to Perth in western Australia and then Karratha in the north-west of western Australia, with budgets and deadlines is exciting, fun and a challenge. Accommodation, hire cars, flights, places to eat, filming permissions and scheduling interviews, your world becomes one mission and one only. Get what the film crew needs so that the story is done.

Karratha in the north of the state is a 22-hour drive by car or a two-hour flight on one of two commercial carriers that fly every hour to the isolated desert town. After checking in with 181 kilogrammes of camera equipment or 13 cases of luggage and arriving in Karratha, we unpack and our long days begin.

The strain of putting together a half-hour documentary in a foreign country and dealing with tight deadlines can put a great deal of pressure on any crew. People generally get tired, they snap and sometimes when you are confined to a small space for hours on end (i.e. a car that is loaded to the roof with camera equipment) the last thing you want to do is see the people you are working with. But Chan Tau Chou and Lee Ali approached the long stressful days with humour, grace, professionalism and the ability to sleep in the most unusual locations (on top of windy rocky outcrops).

Filming in the north-west was a whirlwind of driving long distances, climbing rocky terrain, rising at 4am and falling into bed at midnight with back-to-back interviews in between.

I am excited to see the final product of Australia's boomtown curse. I think it is a story that people need to hear about.

AlJazeera

Monday, April 23

In Rural US, Gas Fracking Sparks Scare

After the drilling began on Terry Greenwood's farm, he says, "the water went bad -- it looked like iced tea."
 
In 2008, he recounted, "10 of my cows died. I don't want my cows to drink the water from the pond anymore, and we drink trucked water from a tank."
 
Greenwood, a white-bearded, grizzled former truck driver of 64, said he and his family used to use the water from a pond and a well on the property, but since the takeoff of natural gas fracking in the southwest corner of the state, "I've had nothing but trouble."
 
Fracking, the technique of hydraulically fracturing shale rock deep beneath the surface to release natural gas, has upended lives in the area, for the good and the bad.

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Energy Daily

Darling Downs farmers consider legal action against Toowoomba Council : Video

A row over water that was sold to a miner threatens to challenge the next Toowoomba Regional Council.


ABC 730 Report

New Zealand: Protests says Aotearoa is not for sale

A series of protests, or Hikoi, will take place across New Zealand from April 24 to May 10, under the banner “Aoteoroa Not For Sale”.

The demonstrations are being organised against the pro-privatisation, pro-mining and anti-social agenda of the National Party government, led by Prime Minister John Key.

The Hikoi will kick off at the top of New Zealand's north island at Cape Reinga on April 24.
Led by Maori elders and grandchildren, the Hikoi will make its way south, link up with local protests in towns and cities along the route, and join a major protest planned for Auckland on April 28.

The Hikoi will then wind its way south to Wellington for a week of protest action kicking off on May 4 with a march on parliament against the proposed assets sales.

New Zealand's publicly-owned electricity companies are at risk -- Mighty River Power, Meridian Energy and Genesis and Solid Energy. A bill is now before parliament for partial privatisation. Air New Zealand, prisons, roads, schools and state housing are also targeted for future privatisation, despite opinion polls showing 80% of people oppose the asset sales.

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Green Left Weekly