Candidate response to Stop CSG Sydney questionnaire

Stop CSG Sydney Inc
Questions for candidates in the NSW State elections, March 2015

Dear candidate,
The drilling and extraction of coal seam gas (CSG) is already having a major impact on communities across NSW – but in particular in Gloucester, the Pilliga and Camden. Due to widespread community concern, the industry has not been able to proceed at the pace at which it had anticipated.
Stop CSG Sydney formed in 2011 to oppose the test drill at St Peters – next to schools, homes and parks. The licence – PEL 463 – covers the whole of metropolitan Sydney and remains live until October 2015.
While Stop CSG Sydney doesn’t think the current UK owner – Igas Inc – would contemplate drilling in metropolitan Sydney, it may well be considering its prospects in the outlying areas of the licence – for example close to an AGL gas field in Camden in Sydney’s south west.
Following the release of the Chief Scientist’s report on CSG in September, the NSW government released its NSW Gas Plan in November which reiterates its support for the CSG industry. The plan, however, does nothing to reassure communities trying to protect Sydney water catchment and agricultural land.
The State Election is on March 28, 2015. We would appreciate if you could answer the following questions which will be advertised on our website in the lead up to the elections. We have also scheduled a candidates’ forum for February 22, 2015.
Thank you!

Q1. Do you support the coal seam gas industry being rolled out in NSW?
Answer: No
Why?The CSG process has already been found to be dangerous (US, Queensland, NSW and elsewhere). Therefore governments should not allow it to set up until the science proves it is safe – which is yet to happen. For a safe climate, we need to shift to zero emissions within the next decade. With stationary energy currently responsible for 51% of our total emissions, the single biggest contribution to a safe climate future in Australia will come through making the switch to 100% renewables. This means no fossil fuels, including natural gas.
Investment in energy must be limited to technologies that can move us to a zero emissions economy, not commit us to new fossil fuels. Along with other fossil fuels, existing unconventional gas projects must be rapidly phased out, with workers guaranteed a just transition to alternative employment.

Q2. Does your party support hydraulic fracturing (‘fracking’) in Gloucester, Pilliga or Camden?
Answer: NO
Socialist Alliance supports a ban on hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) and similar stimulation techniques for unconventional gas mining. The process of fracking threatens to contaminate our water systems and supplies, has been found to be responsible for methane leaks, threatens the productive quality of land, including in our food bowl regions. The health impacts of fracking have been well documented, and some studies have also linked fracking with increased seismic activity.
The discovery last year that uranium had poisoned an aquifer in the Pilliga was a wake up call that fracking should be halted. The fact that Santos only received a fine of $1500 from the NSW EPA for says a lot about the priority given by the government to protecting the health of communities in regional areas of NSW.

Q3. Do you have concerns about the health risks associated with CSG mining?
Answer: Yes
Because the evidence from the US – where unconventional gas mining has been happening for longer – shows that there are major health risks: breathing and skin problems are among the risks. Doctors for the Environment states that contaminants used for fracking, as well as toxic substances produced through fracking, can produce short-term and long term health problems including contributing to systemic illness and/or cancer many years later.

Q4. Do you have concerns about the impact of CSG mining on water resources and agricultural land?
Answer: YES
It is mind-boggling that coal seam gas (CSG) licences and wells have been approved in our drinking water catchments. There are up to 600 chemicals used in the fracking fluid, including known carcinogens and toxins. Pollution from the waste fluid (from the fracking process) and aquifer damage are two major threats for farmers and others living in and around gas wells, or drinking water supplied by catchments where fracking occurs. Problems with the safe disposal of the toxic compounds including heavy metals and/or radioactive compounds means serious risk of these toxins entering the water supply and food chain, where they have a dangerous impact.

Q5. If you are elected, will you (and your party) support and campaign for a ban on CSG mining in Sydney's water catchment?
Answer: Yes
For all the reasons stated above. Water is a precious resource in this dry continent, and it must not be put under threat from a toxic method of extracting a fossil fuel which adds to the global carbon pollution problem.

Q6. If you are elected, will you (and your party) support and advocate for a Royal Commission into the CSG industry to determine if it's safe?
Answer: Yes
Numerous parliamentary inquiries have focussed on aspects of the industry and its process, but none have been able to subpoena industry CEOs to reveal the fracking compounds and methods. Only a Royal Commission can do this, and thoroughly investigate the industry’s claims to be safe. Socialist Alliance supports an immediate moratorium on all unconventional gas exploration and production until the outcome of the royal commission and democratic decision about the future of existing projects.

Q7. Will you (and your party) support the call for the licence covering greater metropolitan Sydney (PEL 463) to be cancelled (extinguished) to provide certainty for 4 million people?
Answer: Yes
PEL 463 should never have been granted, and it should be extinguished immediately. This is the only responsible policy approach. The threat of CSG will hang over the heads of Sydney residents while this license exists. The ongoing existence of this licence reveals the NSW government’s claims to protecting urban areas from CSG to be nothing more than rhetoric and spin.

Thanks for the opportunity to contribute.
Susan Price
Socialist Alliance Candidate for Summer Hill.

Media release date: 
Saturday, February 14, 2015
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