Monday, November 5, 2012

Burke will avoid making any decision on James Price Point

––– COAG reiterated its commitment to reducing duplication and double-handling of environmental assessment and approval processes while maintaining high environmental standards that are risk- and outcomes-based. In line with the timing agreed at the COAG meeting in April, consultations are underway and negotiations for bilateral agreements are about to commence.

Federal Environment minister Tony Burke listed the koala as a threatened species and gave himself the power to protect them, citing the poor performance of the states as the reason he needed to step in. Yet when COAG puts the planned reforms to our environment laws into practice by March next year, Tony Burke will hand this responsibility for protecting koalas right back to the states.

Will Tony Burke wait until these planned reforms are in place, so he will be able to completely avoid making any decisions on the Strategic Assessment Report for James Price Point? Will he just hand ball the responsibility back to this corrupted Barnett government and their corporate masters? If these reforms are implemented who and how will major state driven projects be assessed, by the proponent’s own departments? Who and how will monitoring and compliance be undertaken?

Although incredibly rare, the environment wins of the past have been when the federal environment minister stepped in to stop a project already approved by the states. The Franklin River is one example, as well as Queensland's Traveston Dam, cattle grazing in the Alpine National Park and oil drilling in the Great Barrier Reef.

If the ALP and the Coalition succeed in removing the federal environment minister from these decisions, this kind of win won't happen again.

The weakness is at the heart of the national environment laws - the Act does not set out clear levels of unacceptable environmental impacts. Rather, it operates by a series of triggers; if a development has a large impact on environmental values, then it triggers the federal environment minister's consideration for approval. Whether or not the development is allowed to go ahead, and under what conditions, is largely left to the whim of the minister, with few constraints - or soon, the whim of the states.

Tony Burke has said he will impose decision-making standards on the states, so they can't weaken environmental protection. But only recently, the Queensland Premier failed to uphold existing federal standards when approving the environmental assessment for the Alpha coal mine - so how can we trust the states to comply with new standards? And what happens when they don't?

This is why green groups and communities have hailed the reforms as the worst thing to happen to our environment in the last 30 years.

The possibility of 'approval bilateral agreements' - accrediting states to give federal approvals instead of the Federal Government - was written into the original Act. When the Howard Government passed the Act in 1999, the prospect of federal powers being handed over to the states was greeted with horror:
 ... In this legislation they have enabled the states and the Commonwealth to now go through a process where, through a bilateral agreement, in future the Commonwealth could say to Victoria — and states with track records of environmental vandalism like Victoria — 'Here, you have the responsibility for the Ramsar wetlands. Here, you have the responsibility for the environmental impacts of a toxic dump,' and just let it happen.

These were the words of Julia Gillard, MP. It's a bitter irony that it's now Prime Minister Gillard's own government, and her own environment minister, who will deliver the very same disastrous outcome she warned of 13 years ago. 

Our environment laws should be made stronger, not weaker. Our environment should be protected for future generations, not left to the states to be torn to pieces. And the Australian Government should remember they're being paid with our taxes to govern in the interests of all Australians, and do their damn job.

The Green are asking us to tell the ALP and the Coalition that Australia's environment is too important to leave to state governments. Join our call today: don't abandon it to the states.


  1. Everything you say is true.
    I heard Mitt Romney saying just the other day,"when I'm President I will completely overhaul our energy policy.Gone will be the wind farms and solar panels that are depriving the American people of jobs and cheap gas."(as in gasoline).
    He wants a fossil fuel bonanza.Drilling and fraccing everywhere,National Parks,schools,your back yard,you name it.
    The environment will not be factored in to any of this.

    Australia is in the "dash for gas" and everyone else is getting in on it too.
    And don't forget oil is now being produced by fraccing.
    At last Europe can be free of Russia,the USA free from the Middle East oil tyrants.
    It's a "bran nue dae" alright and no one is slowing down no way no how.

    So it would be fair to say that while this almighty clamour is going on any voices of caution are very difficult to hear.

    Here are a few excerpts from a Slugcatcher article on the potential for an oil glut,and the dangers of the oil and gas industry not heeding the facts and perhaps not drawing the obvious conclusions.

  2. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is Nigeria’s finance minister, which means she keeps a close eye on the oil price since it is oil that provides about 80% of her country’s budget.

    But Dr Okonjo-Iweala knows a bit more about the world than oil. She is a Harvard-educated economist, a former senior manager at the World Bank and was a front-runner for the job of World Bank president.

    What she said last week about oil is yet to reverberate around the world, but it will because her sharp eye has spotted a trend that can be linked to the profit falls reported by the oil majors.

    “We are worried, we are concerned,” Dr Okonjo-Iweala said about the oil price, “because obviously there are many countries discovering oil and gas so the supply will be increasing over the next few years and therefore, we need to plan accordingly.”

    It is a few decades since anyone talked about an oil glut, but when you analyse what Dr Okonjo-Iweala said on the sidelines of an investment conference in London, that is the essence of her message.
    The easiest explanation for what’s happening is that reduced demand in depressed Europe and slower growth in China is combining with rising energy independence in the US, thanks to the rising tide of liquids and gas production from shale and other tight rocks.

    It is that combination of falling demand and new sources of supply which combine to produce a sobering future oil price forecast from Nigeria’s Finance Minister of $US75 a barrel, about $US10/bbl below the current West Texas Intermediate price of $US84.79bbl.

    And it is Dr Okonjo-Iweala’s view of the future which needs to be read alongside the latest profit reports of the majors – and factored into broader market trends, particularly this one: have lower gas prices in the US started to seep into the global oil industry?
    it is significant that the shale-gas glut has already done serious damage to the coal industry, driving down US coal prices and forcing mines in that country to seek export opportunities which, in turn, has led to depressed global coal prices.

    So, if shale gas can hit the price of coal, why can’t it also hit the worldwide oil price because the same economic force is at work – a rising energy supply in the world’s biggest single energy market.
    it would be unwise to not suspect that what started as a novel way of extracting gas from tight rocks in the US is starting to have global repercussions – just as Amy Myers Jaffe predicted in early 2010.

    Back then, while The Slug was paying a courtesy call on the Baker Institute at Rice University in Houston, Ms Jaffe was rattling the oil industry with her crystal-ball predictions of an “energy revolution” that would “change the world, prevent the rise of new (oil) cartels, alter geopolitics and slow the rise of renewables”.

    Roll forward two-and-a-half years and its becoming a little clearer that Ms Jaffe was not so much looking into a crystal ball as analysing the facts and arriving at perfectly logical conclusions that have now been picked up by Dr Okonjo-Iweala – and ignored by anyone in the oil and gas industry at their peril.


  3. So it's easy to see what is happening here.
    Australia isn't competitive with the lower costs in other countries that are discovering oil and gas in vast quantities.Woodside may be battling to find anything in their wells,but they seem to be alone in that.Everyone else can't stop hitting the stuff.(must be very frustrating for them).

    So under pressure from the oil and gas companies the governments of Australia are doing some very shonky accounting to try and gain some kind of edge.
    They are taking the environment out of the equation.And Native Title.

    However this is doomed to fail.

    " would be unwise to not suspect that what started as a novel way of extracting gas from tight rocks in the US is starting to have global repercussions – just as Amy Myers Jaffe predicted in early 2010.

    Back then, while The Slug was paying a courtesy call on the Baker Institute at Rice University in Houston, Ms Jaffe was rattling the oil industry with her crystal-ball predictions of an “energy revolution” that would “change the world, prevent the rise of new (oil) cartels, alter geopolitics and slow the rise of renewables”.

    "Roll forward two-and-a-half years and its becoming a little clearer that Ms Jaffe was not so much looking into a crystal ball as analysing the facts and arriving at perfectly logical conclusions that have now been picked up by Dr Okonjo-Iweala – and ignored by anyone in the oil and gas industry at their peril."


    All the environmental vandalism they can throw at that problem will not improve the situation one little bit.In fact we will only destroy what is really worth saving and for no good at all.

    This from The Guardian on the UK's dash for gas :

    The amount of power expected to be generated from gas by 2030 has quadrupled in the last year, according to official projections that will infuriate green campaigners who are demanding greater use of renewable energy sources.

    They claim that the statistics, buried in recently published government documents, will leave the country unable to meet its carbon emission targets. The figures will reinforce the sense that chancellor George Osborne is winning his battle to downgrade the role of green energy in favour of a dash for gas.
    And the UK government aren't too keen on spending billions of pounds on a few carbon capture plants either.

    So there goes the UK and Australia's emmissions targets.And if Romney gets in lookout.

    Hurricane Sandy showed us the power of the elements.

    How many of us haven't looked at Walmadany,Broome,Beagle Bay,One Arm Point,and thought,"where will they be in 20 or 30 years time?"

    Sadly the lack of action on emmissions and the total disregard for the environment,may mean they will all be beneath the waves.

  4. Buru :

    The EP438 joint venture has gained approval from the Western Australian Department of Mines and Petroleum to drill Cyrene-1.

    The drilling will take place with the DCA Rig 7, but an exact timetable has not yet been given by the Buru Energy/Mitsubishi-led joint venture.

    Joint venture partner Key Petroleum told the market that a 30-man camp and tubulars would now start mobilising to the site.


    US :

    Exporters have applied to the US for approval for annual LNG shipments from the country of a combined 150 million tons, BG chief operating officer Martin Houston said last month.


    Australia on gas exports vs domestic supply :

    “APPEA urges any groups tempted to call for gas reservations or similar policies to think very carefully.

    “Project margins have tightened dramatically in recent years – this is the worst time to impose extra costs on proponents or to reduce the profitability of their projects. Having laws dictate where and how gas can be sold invariably deters investment.


    A few years ago it would have been unheard of : Japanese electronic giants all go bust!

    But today Panasonic,Sharp and Sony are all going that way.Why?

    They failed to recognize the importance of new and emerging technologies and invested in products with a very slim profit magin.

    Sounds like the course Woodside have adopted with JPP,doesn't it?

    Here's some more for them to chew on :

    LNG transportation specialist specialist Golar has made the move into floating production, announcing a deal to build its first FLNG vessel with an eye on exploiting cheap African gas.

    The company says gas supply for the units will be from “pipeline quality gas, lean associated reserves and, potentially, lean gas from otherwise stranded fields”.

    Its first FLNG vessel will have a capacity of up to 2 million tonnes per annum and will utilise the existing 125,000 cubic metres of LNG storage on board the carrier.

    The conversion is expected to start mid-next year and the completed vessel is scheduled to be ready by early 2015.

    “The board sees particular opportunities in the African region, where gas prices remain low.

    “Significantly, large quantities of gas are currently being flared and the infrastructure doesn't naturally support large land-based LNG investments.”


    Panasonic,Sharp and Sony all got killed by the likes of Samsung and Apple who saw the potential for new and emerging technologies,and took production methods to a new level and did it better than any one else.



    MINING companies in WA have so much clout that even our top environment defender is powerless to rein them in when they're caught polluting in a big way.

    An investigation by The Sunday Times has found:

    * Samples and video evidence filmed by a whistleblower show that Barrick Gold contaminated groundwater in the Goldfields with arsenic at levels up to 30 times the safe limit at its Kanowna Belle mine site.

    * Residents are suffering asthma and breathing difficulties after the operators of Kalgoorlie's Super Pit failed to stop toxin-rich dust blowing over homes.

    * A plant called the Gidji Roaster which processes Super Pit ore and is one of the world's worst mercury polluters is still allowed to operate despite Department of Environment director-general Keiran McNamara saying its mercury and sulphur dioxide emissions were so great the plant "would not be allowed in most other Australian states or other developed countries".

    In documents obtained under Freedom of Information laws, Mr McNamara called for a cap on emissions, more stations for air monitoring, a 1km exclusion zone and better smokestack filtering at the Gidji Roaster, run by operator KCGM.

    But none of his recommendations, which he made in a confidential submission in 2010 to the Environmental Protection Agency, was ever adopted.

    The latest Health Department wellbeing survey shows residents in the Goldfields have a higher rate of cancer and are 30 per cent more likely to suffer asthma or respiratory problems than other West Australians.

    A senior environment department insider said staff were so busy and focused on mine approvals that they had almost no time for compliance checks and investigations.

    He said two spills of waste "tailings" of more than a million litres each this year were not investigated, while a company suspected of burying thousands of litres of oil in drums also escaped inquiry.

    Greens mining spokesman Robin Chapple said the State Government and the mines and environment departments were unable and unwilling to hold miners to account because they were a "cash cow" and were powering the economy.

    He called for a royal commission into the resources sector, while the Australian Medical Association and the Opposition also want an inquiry.

    Former underground-miner-turned-campaigner Shaun Maddock said WA had an "endemic culture of non-regulation and non-enforcement of the mining sector".

    "Based on thousands of pieces of documented evidence over a number of decades, both the mines and environment departments and the ministers are involved," Mr Maddock said. "That is why it warrants nothing short of a royal commission."

    A spokeswoman for Mines Minister Norman Moore said he was on leave and could not be reached for comment. Mr McNamara declined to comment this week and a spokeswoman said the Department of Environment did not comment on the claims of unnamed staff members.

  6. Well,not bad I thought.Best part of 1/2 hour on Q&A tonight about JPP.Barnett told his usual porkies but they just didn't seem to carry as much weight this time.
    The ground has definately shifted,and shifted in favour of the "no gas at JPP" camp.

    It is still very sad to see Rita Augustine hoping that a gas plant will stop the suicides.Sad to hear Barnett use that and child abuse to justify his scheme.

    If any of that was true then the first place to build a gas plant would have to be The Vatican.
    How any whitefella can point a finger at the blackfellas over these issues is beyond me.
    I went to an all white school and we had kids committing suicide because of abuse and no one ever suggested a gas plant was the answer.

    Apart from all that Bob Brown was very good as was the Indigenous lawyer and Allanah.
    The point that Broome would have as many jobs as needed from being a shore supply base was well made.

    At one stage Tony Jones,who seems to get more about JPP than anything else,referred to the gas hub as "this disaster."