Blog

The debate continues - Coal Seam Gas

By: Isabelle Kingsley, Category: Lifelong Learning, Date: 26 Sep 2011

The Coal Seam Gas (CSG) industry has recently launched an advertising campaign to try and convince the public of the safety and economic benefit of gas wells. But not everyone is convinced.

Coal seam gas (CSG) is a natural gas which collects in underground coal seams and is extracted through wells drilled into the seams. Coal seam gas is used in the same ways as natural gas, fuelling heaters and stoves, and generating electricity.

The Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association (APPEA) member companies, including AGL, Santos, Origin Energy, British Gas, PetroChina, Shell, and ConocoPhillips, have financed a four to six week We Want CSG advertising campaign.

The campaign aims to give out “the facts—not myths—about the Coal Seam Gas industry”, stating that:

  • CSG is the purest form of Natural Gas from coal.
  • Using CSG to generate electricity instead of coal can reduce greenhouse emissions by up to 70%, ensuring a cleaner energy supply for Australia.
  • CSG production does involve extracting large quantities of water. But this water is drawn from coal seams, not from the aquifers normally used for agriculture.
  • CSG associated water can be used by farmers or used for other beneficial purposes such as irrigation, stock watering or even town water supplies. In some cases, CSG associated water must be treated.
  • The CSG industry is a major employer with more than 5,000 people already working in the industry, and in the coming years, this number will increase to more than 18,000 jobs.

Although it all sounds great, people have formed an alliance support to “Lock the Gate” to the industry. People have come together to hear from experts and other people whose lives have already been impacted by the CSG industry. They have signed petitions and lobbied their local politicians.

The Lock the Gate Alliance hopes to protect Australia's cultural and agricultural resources from inappropriate mining. Their concerns are that:

  • CSG extraction would ruin drinking water and agricultural supplies by contaminating town water supplies, aquifers and stock bores, by extracting water with gas, lowering the water tables and by creating vast quantities of waste water.
  • Gas mining is not a ‘clean, green’ alternative to coal—it too turns clean water into toxic water, land into deserts and leaves broken communities to pick up the costs during and when done.

What do you think? Should we be embracing CSG as a safe and economically beneficial resource or fighting to keep it out of our communities?