Senate Debates Aspects of CSG and Coal Committee
Byline: Adam Carroll and Daniel Burdon APN Newsdesk
THE issue of coal seam gas extraction continues to achieve something that has been extremely rare in the nation's capital over the past two years Co consensus.
And so it continued in the Senate last week as a bill to establish a scientific committee to assess future large coal and CSG projects was debated.
The bill, which passed the lower house in May, was debated for more than half the day.
While the bill is expected to pass the Senate unopposed, there is no agreement on all aspects of it.
Attempts by the Greens to amend the bill, including placing a five-year moratorium on CSG extraction, were defeated.
Senator Larissa Waters spent more than an hour grilling the government about certain parts of the bill.
While she supported the bill, she said it did not go far enough to ensure the Environment Minister must act on the committee's advice and the minister did not have the power to enforce recommendations anyway.
Senator Waters was helped in her prosecution by maverick Liberal Senator Bill Heffernan, whose concerns about the potential impact of CSG on underground water systems and prime agricultural land are well known.
He described the panel as a C[pounds sterling]toothless tigerC[yen] in that the state ministers charged with approving CSG applications would not be required to consider the panel's advice.
During a lengthy debate, Nationals Senators Fiona Nash and Barnaby Joyce said more work was needed to determine the risks associated with CSG extraction.
Senator Nash, while not opposed to mining, said no CSG developments should go ahead where there was a risk to aquifers and agricultural land. …