Topics:  coal seam gas, committee, mining, resources, water

CSG flies under the radar

SOME big coal seam gas operations are likely to escape scrutiny by a new scientific committee established to assess the dangers the industry may pose to water resources.

Cotton Australia, in its submission to the Senate Standing Committee on Environment and Communication, warned the scientific committee had come too late to assess three of Queensland's biggest CSG proposals.

The Senate committee is investigating changes to the nation's Environment Protection and Biodiversity Act that would set up a new committee to advise the Federal Environment Minister.

Cotton Australia policy manager Michael Murray said proposals by the British Gas-owned Queensland Gas Company; Australia-Pacific LNG and Santos's Gladstone LNG would not be assessed by the committee.

"I understand that once they've got the development approval it's really too late," Mr Murray said.

"To my knowledge, despite what both Queensland and NSW have been doing, nowhere is really off limits from CSG, except maybe for national parks."

Just shy of $25 million was allocated in the 2012-13 Federal Budget to create a "science-based framework for coal seam gas and coal mining impacts on water" led by the interim committee.

It has already identified the Surat, Bowen and Galilee basins, Liverpool Plains, Maranoa-Balonne, Gunnedah, and Clarence-Moreton regions for in-depth study of the potential hazards CSG and coal mines may pose to water resources.

The committee members comprise six academic geological experts, including Dr Chris Moran, the director of the mining and CSG industry-funded Sustainable Minerals Institute at the University of Queensland.

A recent NSW Parliamentary inquiry into CSG recommended holding off on any more production licences for the industry until a regulatory framework was introduced.

That inquiry's recommendation reflects a growing public unease about the industry - displayed on Saturday by a 7000-strong protest at Lismore.

The Senate committee will report its findings to parliament by June 20.



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