Mount Gambier council adopts anti-fracking stance

Mount Gambier city councillors have unanimously supported a motion opposing unconventional gas exploration in south-east South Australia.

The council is calling on the State Government to impose at least a two-year moratorium on fracking.

It also wants the South-East Local Government Association to adopt a clear stance on the matter.

Limestone Coast Protection Alliance member Anne Daw says the city council now joins the Robe and Wattle Range councils, which have previously voiced their concerns.

“It is very, very good that the council are putting their voice out there,” she said.

“This is showing support from the community.

“It is not only the general community that have concerns but people on the council that are elected by the people and this also sends a clear message to our State Government.

“Our concerns will always be there as long as these projects are allowed.

“I really wanted to see the laws changed. We certainly are taking away their social licence in the south-east and sending a message to the petroleum companies that we do not want them down there.”

Former Mobil Exec Warns of Fracking and Climate Change

Few people can explain gas and oil drilling with as much authority as Louis W. Allstadt. As an executive vice president of Mobil oil, he ran the company’s exploration and production operations in the western hemisphere before he retired in 2000. In 31 years with the company he also was in charge of its marketing and refining in Japan, and managed its worldwide supply, trading and transportation operations. Just before retiring, he oversaw Mobil’s side of its merger with Exxon, creating the world’s largest corporation.

Read the full interview where Louis talks about how unsafe fracking is

Colorado Fracking Boom Photo Essay

Online Citizen News Story Publishing Site

This is a site where you can publish your own coal seam gas related news. Many people from all over the world post articles here.

View the Australia section of Coal Seam Gas News here


Mining Industry ‘misconceptions’

THE Limestone Coast needs to choose between a future as an agriculturally rich food bowl and renowned wine region or an unconventional shale gasfield dotted with wells that have a lifespan of 15-20 years at most.

That’s the opinion of Australia Institute’s Mark Ogge. A researcher with the independent think-tank based in Canberra, he delivered three information sessions at Mount Gambier, Penola and Kingston last week, hosted by the Limestone Coast Protection Alliance and Community Action for Sustainability.

Mr Ogge outlined “misconceptions” about the mining industry’s financial contribution to the economy and employment.

Apart from environmental concerns with groundwater pollution and drawdown of the aquifer, Mr Ogge said there were adverse social and financial impacts for agriculture, manufacturing and tourism.

He said mining did not simply have an additive effect to the local economy; the boom in the past couple of decades had come at the expense of other parts of the Australian economy.

He said Australia’s gas industry paid a fraction of the average effective corporate tax rate of about 21 per cent.

“The gas industry, with all its deductions, pays about 6 per cent. They pay a petroleum resource rent tax of 8 per cent, but that is because of the super profits and is not intended to mean they should pay less corporate tax,” Mr Ogge said.

The gas industry was also subject to royalties, but he said these needed to be put in perspective.

“In Queensland, when all projects are operating at their peak in 2016-17, it will only be paying $450 million in royalties to the government – so 1 per cent of Queensland’s revenue – and there is a big price tag attached, which is covering tens of thousands of kilometres of Queensland with gas wells.”

Agriculture and tourism are the two biggest industries and, by far, the biggest employers in the area. You don’t want to trade them away lightly. – Australia Institute’s Mark Ogge.

In contrast, Norway has recognised it is a finite resource and has taxed its gas industry at 78 per cent. It also has a state-owned stake in every venture.

Mr Ogge said this money had gone into a sovereign wealth fund worth $1.5 trillion for future generations whereas in Australia, these resources were nearly being given away.

“I was shocked when I read just a couple of days ago that the current SA government has offered a five-year royalty holiday to the gas industry in this state,” he said.

“A lot of these wells aren’t going to last five years – the people of this state own this resource and are not getting the returns.”

“Agriculture and tourism are the two biggest industries and, by far, the biggest employers in the area. You don’t want to trade them away lightly,” Mr Ogge said.

Read the full article in the Naracoorte Herald

Third Report in Three Days Shows Scale of Fracking Perils

‘We can conclude that this process has not been shown to be safe’

– Jacob Chamberlain, staff writer

March 2013 Annapolis, Maryland rally against fracking (Flickr / Maryland Sierra Club / Creative Commons license)The fracking industry is having a bad week.

In the third asssessment in as many days focused on the pollution created by the booming industry, a group of researchers said Wednesday that the controversial oil and gas drilling practice known as fracking likely produces public health risks and “elevated levels of toxic compounds in the environment” in nearly all stages of the process.

The latest research, conducted by the Physicians Scientists & Engineers for Healthy Energy, compiled “the first systematic literature review” of peer-reviewed studies on the effects of fracking on public health and found the majority of research points to dangerous risks to public health, with many opportunities for toxic exposure.

“It’s clear that the closer you are [to a fracking site], the more elevated your risk,” said lead author Seth Shonkoff, from the University of California-Berkeley. “We can conclude that this process has not been shown to be safe.”

According to the “near exhaustive review” of fracking research, environmental pollution is found “in a number of places and through multiple processes in the lifecycle of shale gas development,” the report states. “These sources include the shale gas production and processing activities (i.e., drilling, hydraulic fracturing, hydrocarbon processing and production, wastewater disposal phases of development); the transmission and distribution of the gas to market (i.e., in transmission lines and distribution pipes); and the transportation of water, sand, chemicals, and wastewater before, during, and after hydraulic fracturing.”

Citing the recent research, the report continues:

Shale gas development uses organic and inorganic chemicals known to be health damaging in fracturing fluids (Aminto and Olson 2012; US HOR 2011). These fluids can move through the environment and come into contact with humans in a number of ways, including surface leaks, spills, releases from holding tanks, poor well construction, leaks and accidents during transportation of fluids, flowback and produced water to and from the well pad, and in the form of run-off during blowouts, storms, and flooding events (Rozell and Reaven 2012). Further, the mixing of these compounds under conditions of high pressure, and often, high heat, may synergistically create additional, potentially toxic compounds (Kortenkamp et al. 2007; Teuschler and Hertzberg 1995; Wilkinson 2000). Compounds found in these mixtures may pose risks to the environment and to public health through numerous environmental pathways, including water, air, and soil (Leenheer et al. 1982). […]

At certain concentrations or doses, more than 75% of the chemicals identified are known to negatively impact the skin, eyes, and other sensory organs, the respiratory system, the gastrointestinal system, and the liver; 52% have the potential to negatively affect the nervous system; and 37% of the chemicals are candidate endocrine disrupting chemicals.

The group also warns that while numerous studies have proven the alarming and destructive nature of fracking, there is still not nearly enough research on the issue, particularly on the long-term effects of fracking on public health, such as future cancer rates.

“Most importantly,” say the authors, “there is a need for more epidemiological studies to assess associations between risk factors, such as air and water pollution and health outcomes among populations living in close proximity to shale gas operations.”

The review follows on the heels of two other reviews on the dangers of fracking released earlier this week.

The first report, a scientific study released Monday, found that methane emissions from fracking could be up to 1000 times greater than what the EPA has estimated. Methane is up to 30 times more potent than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas.

The second report, a review conducted by Bloomberg News on Wednesday, detailed how industrial waste from fracking sites is leaving a “legacy of radioactivity” and other toxic problems across the country and spawning a “surge” in illegal dumping at hundreds of sites in the U.S.

Click here to read the original article


Opportunities Galore in Australian Shale Gas

An article in outlining why Beach Energy and other companies are involved in unconventional gas mining….. yep. it is all about MONEY!

Click here to read the article

Fracking worries for wine region

Interview with Peter Balnaves on ABC PM with Caroline Winter.


MARK COLVIN: There are warnings that one of Australia’s most prestigious wine regions could be at risk if gas exploration goes ahead in South Australia.

Agriculturalists in the Coonawarra are calling for a moratorium on the practice, over fears that CSG drilling could harm underground water reserves. There’s already been exploratory drilling in the region to investigate the viability of shale gas deposits.

Caroline Winter reports.

CAROLINE WINTER: Just outside the town of Penola in South Australia’s south-east is a test well. It’s one of two which is being drilled to find out more about what sits below the surface.

REG NELSON: So what we hope to find is the potential for gas, whether it’s what people might call conventional or unconventional, it’s part and parcel of the process of exploration.

CAROLINE WINTER: Reg Nelson is managing director of Beach Energy. The mining company has come under fire, for its exploration in the region.

RED NELSON: There are myths and outright lies that are promulgated by people who have different agendas. I understand that people have concerns. We’re happy to talk to them honestly and openly to allay any concerns.

CAROLINE WINTER: The uncertainty surrounding the potential for mining there has prompted a number of protests and community meetings. It has agriculturalists and vignerons in the nearby wine region particularly concerned.

PETE BALNAVES: One of the biggest issues the area’s had to deal with. It’s got the potential to have some serious effect on a lot of industries.

CAROLINE WINTER: Pete Balnaves is the vineyard manager from Balnaves of Coonawarra. He’s worried that if the company finds gas, it will use hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, to tap into underground reserves, threatening the groundwater and highly valued agricultural land.

PETE BALNAVES: There’s known leakage between the top unconfined aquifer and the bottom aquifer, and so even taking water out of the lower aquifer could change the equilibrium.

CAROLINE WINTER: Pete Balnaves says that clean water is precious, and already there’s not enough to go around, let alone support the mining industry.

PETE BALNAVES: All the water that’s here at the moment is allocated. There’s only about 40-50 per cent of it that’s actually being used, and the fact that we’re taking cuts when only 40-50 per cent is being used shows you how fine the line is.

CAROLINE WINTER: If it goes ahead, it would be the first time the technique has been used in an agricultural area in South Australia.

Tony Beck is a specialist irrigator south of Penola.

TONY BECK: At least half of my income is directly or indirectly earned from irrigation and using water resources sustainably. So I have a huge stake in protecting our water resources.

CAROLINE WINTER: He says if it has to occur, gas exploration shouldn’t be on the doorsteps of highly productive food producers.

TONY BECK: The likelihood of being successful in cementing the zones between the aquifers is really quite low. In other words, the risk of something bad happening and saline water being pushed from the deep, salty aquifers up into the clean aquifers is really quite high.

CAROLINE WINTER: But Beach Energy’s managing director Reg Nelson disputes that, and a number of other claims.

REG NELSON: We set in triple layers of steel and concrete casing to depths of 500 metres below all of the known major aquifers in the region. I call it a triple steel clad guarantee that the aquifers will not be compromised.

CAROLINE WINTER: There’s also been suggestion that there’d be thousands of wells set up in the area. Is that correct?

REG NELSON: Absolute rubbish. I’ve seen reports from 3,000 to 20,000 wells. They’re confusing it with coal seam gas. It is nothing, I repeat, nothing like coal seam gas.

CAROLINE WINTER: He says the company is preparing to drill a second well and will spend up to a year analysing the data before any decisions are made.

Pete Balnaves says there’s only one outcome he’s interested in.

PETE BALNAVES: What we want and the industry standpoint is that we’re looking for, as Victoria have brought in on their side of the border, a four year moratorium on gas exploration until the correct regulatory framework can be brought into place to allow exploration or any other industry to come into the Water Allocation Plan in a controlled manner.

MARK COLVIN: Coonawarra vineyard manager Pete Balnaves ending Caroline Winter’s report.

Read the original article  from the ABC website

Fracking our Future

The Australia Institute has written a paper that busts the gas industry’s myths about coal seam gas (CSG).

The gas industry has been prolific in putting out exaggerated claims about CSG’s economic benefits while at the same time staying almost completely silent on the health and environmental risks. This paper looks at both the economic claims and the health and environmental risks and will show that, while the economic benefits are likely to be relatively small, a lot more work needs to be done to assess the health and environmental risks.

There is little for Australia to gain by rushing into an expansion of CSG operations.

Click here to download the full document outlining all these myths

stop fracking the limestone coast

Public wants more CSG regulation, federal oversight

One in two Australians want more regulation of coal seam gas, while 71 per cent think the federal government should be responsible for regulating the industry rather than individual states, according to new research by The Australia Institute.

Fracking the future: Busting industry myths about coal seam gas will be launched today by former Independent MP Mr Tony Windsor at Parliament House in Canberra. Click here to read about the document exposing the myths

The paper reveals overwhelming public support (86 per cent) for more information to be provided about coal seam gas projects when they are proposed in local areas.

“Considering the controversial nature of coal seam gas extraction it’s unsurprising that the public wants more information, especially when it comes to environmental impacts,” report author and senior economist Matt Grudnoff said.

“Respondents to our survey raised concerns about damage to the local environment, negative impacts on farming land, health impacts and water contamination.

“The federal government is out of step with the public which wants it to better regulate the expansion plans of the gas industry. It has the power to do so, yet it seems content to allow sloppy state oversight such as we’ve witnessed recently in NSW with the contamination of water in the Pilliga forest,” Mr Grudnoff said.

When asked to nominate potential benefits of CSG, respondents focused on economic examples such as lowering the price of gas and creating jobs. Fracking the future examines these alleged benefits.

“Despite the gas industry’s claims that more gas will mean cheaper gas this does not stand up to scrutiny. Once Australia’s eastern gas market is linked to the world market, the prices we pay will jump to match the world price,” Mr Grudnoff said.

“Our paper also discredits the claim that the industry creates a lot of jobs, showing the entire oil and gas industry employs 23,200 people, or just 0.2 per cent of the Australian workforce. To put this in context, the hardware retail company Bunnings employs 33,000 people.

“The gas industry likes to make inflated claims about its economic importance yet it arrogantly tries to avoid answering community concerns. When there is so much at stake environmentally, the public has every right to demand greater transparency from the industry and greater interest from the federal government,” Mr Grudnoff said.

Article reproduced from The Climate Specator

Limestone Coast Grape & Wine Council Plea

This full page advert was in the Penola Pennant Wed March 12th