2013 – time to stop the onshore coal and gas industry in Victoria

In 2012, community concern about the threat of new coal and gas operations, especially coal seam gas (CSG), pushed the state government to ban the use of dangerous BTEX chemicals and place a moratorium on the process of fracking for gas.

The moratorium will finish shortly and the government has made it clear it wants to see renewed expansion of the fossil fuel industry.

In 2012, community concern about the threat of new coal and gas operations, especially coal seam gas (CSG), pushed the state government to ban the use of dangerous BTEX chemicals and place a moratorium on the process of fracking for gas.

The moratorium will finish shortly and the government has made it clear it wants to see renewed expansion of the fossil fuel industry.

And our job just got harder - mining magnate Gina Rinehart has now bought into Victorian coal and gas exploration.

Her company has bought into local company Lakes Oil, and placed climate sceptic Ian Plimer and former politician Alexander Downer on the Lakes Oil board.

FoE has been tracking Lake’s activity for a year now, and highlighted poor management of some previous operations. They are currently drilling for shale oil in Gippsland, waiting for the moratorium on fracking to end so they can continue their Tight Gas operations, and hold three exploration licenses for brown coal.

the Victorian government must protect Gippsland’s future.


Agriculture is a cornerstone of Victoria’s economy, producing goods valued at around $9 billion a year. Victorian farmers do this with only around 3 per cent of Australia’s arable land.

Gippsland is one of the main farming areas in the state, producing food worth more than $1.3 billion per annum. It is threatened by climate change and pressured by urban sprawl. There is now also a risk from many proposals for new coal and gas operations.

The state government has opposed proposals to hold an inquiry into the likely impacts of new coal and gas operations on the land, water, people and economy of Victoria.

But we all know: No farms, no food.

We cannot allow the risk of some of our best farmland  being damaged by coal and gas operations.

We call for a permanent ban on any new coal and gas mining operations in key areas in Victoria.

This should include a ban on any exploration or production in:


·    productive agricultural areas
·    drinking water catchments, rivers, and ground water supplies
·    urban areas, and areas marked for future development
·    all public land including state forests, land leased to plantation companies and all conservation reserves

Local councils must have the ability to nominate additional areas for protection.

Demand that your community is protected


On February 17, the Gippsland town of Poowong will formally declare itself CSG Free. A number of other communities are moving to make similar declarations. Details here.

Check here for ideas on declaring yourself coal or CSG free.

You can also demand that the government protect your community from mining by using powers in the existing minerals legislation.

There are 2 easy ways to ask the government to protect farmland.

1/ write to the energy minister – this will take about 4 minutes

According to section 7 of the Mineral Resources (Sustainable Development) Act, the Minister has the power to protect all areas from mining.

The Act says:

The Minister may, by writing signed by him or her, exempt any land from being subject to an exploration licence or a mining licence, or both.

(2) The Minister may grant an exemption for any reason he or she decides to be appropriate, including but not limited to the following reasons—
(a) if, in the Minister's opinion, the exemption is required to protect land that is of significant environmental importance;

If you live in a farming area under an exploration permit, you should consider asking the Minister to exempt your community from mining. The more information you provide, the harder it will be for the Minister’s office to ignore your request.

The Minister responsible for this Act is Michael O’Brien.

3 quick steps to send this letter:

1/ Please cut and paste the email addresses into your browser
2/ add subject line: protect farmland from new coal and gas
3/ cut and past the letter, add whatever changes you like PLUS your name and address and send.

And then please forward to 5 friends!

And please let us know how you go: cam.walker@foe.org.au

peter.ryan@parliament.vic.gov.au, michael.o'brien@parliament.vic.gov.au, ted.baillieu@parliament.vic.gov.au, gary.blackwood@parliament.vic.gov.au, russell.northe@parliament.vic.gov.au, tim.bull@parliament.vic.gov.au, philip.davis@parliament.vic.gov.au, peter.hall@parliament.vic.gov.au


SUGGESTED LETTER

Dear Premier



Gippsland is one of the main food growing areas in Victoria.  It’s 6,500 farms are responsible for around $1.3 billion worth of agricultural produce each year. This food feeds Victorians and is a major export industry.

Gippsland's farms are already threatened by climate change and under pressure from urban sprawl. There is also risk from many proposals for new coal and gas operations.

I am very disappointed that your government has opposed an inquiry into the likely impacts of new coal and gas operations on the land, water, people and economy of Victoria.

We cannot allow the risk of coal and gas damaging some of our best farmland, our food supply and a major industry which employs thousands of people.

I call on you to enact a permanent ban on any new coal and gas mining operations in key farming, living and water resource areas in Victoria.

This should include a ban on any exploration or production in:
•    all productive agricultural areas
•    drinking water catchments, in and around rivers, and ground water supplies
•    urban areas
•    all public land including state forests, land leased to plantation companies and all conservation reserves

Local councils understand the needs of their population and local industries and must have the ability to nominate additional areas for protection.

Under section 7 of the existing Mineral Resources (Sustainable Development) Act, your government can create No Go zones for coal and coal seam gas. The only thing lacking is political will.

This issue is not going away. Based on the experience in Queensland, I do not believe that farming and the fossil fuel industry can co-exist in the same area. I urge you to act to protect our precious farmland from the threat of new coal and gas operations.

Yours sincerely

Cc to:

Peter Ryan, Deputy Premier, Leader of the Nationals

Michael O'Brien, Minister for Energy and Resources

Gary Blackwood, Member for Narracan

Russell Northe, Member for Morwell

Tim Bull, Member for Gippsland East

Philip Davis, Upper House Member for Eastern Victoria

Peter Hall, Upper House Member for Eastern Victoria

 

2/ IF YOU’RE SHORT OF TIME:

Please sign our new petition to the Premier.

Please share this with your friends.

Join the campaign for a moratorium on coal and gas

 

More than 60 groups have supported our call for a moratorium on new coal and gas operations. And 6 local councils have supported the call for a moratorium on CSG.

If you are active in any form of environmental, farming, business or community group and can support this call, please contact David Unwin. david.unwin@me.com

Further details here.

Please support our campaign

We are looking for people to help with:

  • Letter boxing
  • Community outreach – including info stalls, door knocking and doing community polling, etc
  • Visiting your MPs and writing to the media
  • Mobilising your friends and communities

If you’re keen, please get in touch: cam.walker@foe.org.au

Donate to support our work.

Become a member of Friends of the Earth.