Friday 14 December 2018


Last month an application for the renewal of an approval to construct the Hunter gas pipeline was placed on exhibition for comment.

Reading what the consultants, RLMS, amazingly refer to as an “Environmental Assessment”, I was appalled at the arrogant approach. It was not an assessment, but a series of bland statements on how environmental issues would be approached.

Of the seven documents, only one actually mentions flora or fauna, and then only a single page focusing on the action of “Suitably qualified fauna handlers”, who “will conduct inspections along areas of open trench to rescue and recover fauna within the trench”. As a bonus: “Details of all animals found in the trench (dead or alive presumably) will be recorded and made available to the regulator”. Any threatened flora they encountered would simply be relocated.

The question is, why is the public being asked to comment on this rubbish? This pipeline is being built, in part, to facilitate Santos' Pilliga (Narrabri) gas field, producing more fossil fuel, which when burnt places the planet at increased risk of climate change.

Let's not forget the latest IPCC report, released in October, identifying that global greenhouse gas emissions are still rising, with global temperatures on track to increase 1.5 degrees within 15 years, and a catastrophic 5 degrees by century's end, threatening all life on earth. Limiting global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees, they claim, would require, “rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society”.

In September, Austalia's national greenhouse gas emissions accounts were released, showing emissions increased by a massive 1.3% in the year to March.

The Science and Policy Institute's Climate Analytics report found that between 2015 and 2020 the emissions growth from gas production in Australia will effectively wipe out the carbon pollution avoided through our 23% renewable energy target.

Then there is the Australian Conservation Foundation's report, The Dirty Truth, just released, showing that air pollution from mining and burning fossil fuels is responsible for some 3,000 premature deaths in Australia every year.

So why on earth are even contemplating building more fossil fuel infrastructure?

- John Edwards

 This article was originally published in the VOICES FOR THE EARTH column in The Daily Examiner on December 3, 2018.