By JR on Saturday, May 28, 2011
POLITICIANS have rushed to defend the coal seam gas industry despite more controversy surrounding it this week.
In a show of support for an industry whose image was dented by another gas leak near Dalby on Monday, the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, and the Queensland Premier, Anna Bligh, travelled to Gladstone yesterday to launch construction on Santos's Curtis Island LNG processing plant.
The $16 billion project is due to deliver its first gas in 2015. Ms Bligh said the environmental approvals had been the "most rigorous" in Australian history.
Environmental groups have complained that approvals for coal seam gas projects - most of which are in Queensland and NSW - have been progressing too quickly, and a moratorium should be placed on further approvals until more is known about the controversial fracking technique.
Fracking involves the pumping of high pressure water and chemicals underground to release gas stores.
As the Gladstone launch was under way, the Queensland Treasurer, Andrew Fraser, was also selling the case for the coal seam gas sector. "This isn't something that's happened in the last one or two years. This is not some wild experiment," Mr Fraser said.
Farming groups have expressed outrage that energy companies have the right to enter private property to explore for coal seam gas, but Mr Fraser said not all farmers were opposed.
"There's plenty of farmers who are quite happy they've got a second string to their income," he said.