Communities across the country are standing up to riot police and saying no to coal seam gas - and the tide is finally starting to turn. The anti-CSG movement has a lot to be proud of, writes Aidan Ricketts
Suddenly, coal seam gas (CSG) is on everyone’s lips. The big issues — water table contamination, public health risks, air pollution and the industrialisation of rural landscapes — are becoming well known. But little more than a year ago the social movement against gas was still just beginning to take off. In 2011 the unconventional gas industry seemed to be on an unalterable trajectory, relatively unopposed except for a few notable blockades and protests in Queensland, where the industry was already well established.
As I have argued previously, the power of CSG blockades lies not in winning on the ground on that one drill site, but in forcing the government and the companies into a self-defeating cycle of displays of overwhelming force, as they go about imposing an unwanted industry on unwilling populations by force.
The important dynamic for communities involved in these campaigns is to remain optimistic and persistent. The ability to stand witness to displays of overwhelming force, while remaining assertive and nonviolent is the winning formula for sure. Regrouping and continuing to resist once the show of force subsides is vital; the only catch is we never really know how many times we need to repeat this process before the wheels start falling off the cart — but they are starting to fall off.