Dear Coal Seam Gas, this thing just isn’t working out…
Dear Coal Seam Gas,
I had high hopes, I really did. My friends told me you were the clean and safe energy source of the future. You promised heaps of new jobs. Best of all, you promised to co-exist peacefully and profitably with farmland. I couldn’t wait to meet you.
But things started to go wrong as soon as you arrived. I had imagined maybe some dinner and some conversation, a chance to get to know you. But instead you just marched into Queensland and started drilling, without answering even half my questions. In fact, there are still questions you haven’t answered.
For example, you keep claiming that your carbon emissions are so much less than coal, but there have been no independent life cycle studies to prove it. You pulled out your own industry study – which is about as objective as a note from your Mum – but it didn’t even take into account your fugitive emissions.
If you don’t mind me making a personal comment about your climate hygiene, I’m worried your fugitive emissions are rather substantial.
I’ve also been asking you for months now exactly what is in your fracking chemicals, but you haven’t given me a clear answer. Please don’t tell me that fracking uses some of the same chemicals found in toothpaste or ice cream – I don’t drink toothpaste, and I doubt you’re punching holes down through aquifers into the coal bed seam only to pour in some Streets Neapolitan.
The chemicals regulator, NICNAS, has assessed only four of your fracking chemicals for safety. Who allowed you to go ahead and blast fracking chemicals underground before they’ve been proven safe?
First you said that you would have no impact on the levels of water bores. Now you think some bores over the Surat Basin in Queensland will drop by up to 150 metres. And there are many other regions where the potential water table drop hasn’t even been looked into, but you’ve gone ahead and drilled anyway.
What about all the waste salt that you’re going to produce from extracting the saline groundwater – is it 20 million or 30 million tonnes? And you still have no idea of what you’re going to do with it?
And – well – there have been incidents. Several incidents. Queensland’s Walloon aquifer contamination. The horrifying waste water spill in the Pilliga, New South Wales, which ruined several hectares of forest. The methane gas bubbling up through the Condamine River. And every time you’re standing quite close, denying all knowledge of how it came about, whistling.
Don’t you think you’re taking this ‘man of mystery’ thing a little too far?
You certainly have a high opinion of yourself. You’ve spent millions on advertising campaigns to tell me that I want you. To be honest, I’d rather you simply told me the truth.
For instance, you’re not actually bringing thousands of jobs to Australia. What jobs you provide are being taken away from other industries, like manufacturing and tourism.
And you’re not really getting on well with farmers, are you? Like me, they’re worried about the future of their farms if you damage the water and the land. They have no power to lock you out. When they protest, you continue to roll straight over the top of them.
Look, I know it’s a cliché, but we need to talk about the future. The National Water Commission and CSIRO have both said they don’t know what your long-term impacts are on our groundwater and environment. And if these scientists don’t know, how can you claim to be safe for us? I just want to know that Australia will still have clean water and be able to grow food after you’ve been and gone, but you can’t offer me that, can you?
I’m sorry, coal seam gas, but this really isn’t working out. You’re not helping the climate and you’re not helping the environment. My friends in the bush, trying to protect their farms, don’t like you. My friends in the city, worried about clean food and water, don’t like you. My mum doesn’t like you.
Frankly, coal seam gas – you stink.
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