MP Cansdell stands by Metgasco

CLARENCE MP Steve Cansdell has swung firmly behind gas miner Metgasco and the NSW Coalition’s rules around coal-seam gas drilling after Federal Page MP Janelle Saffin announced she would back calls for a moratorium on exploration.

Ms Saffin this week backed calls by the Lismore, Ballina, Kyogle, and Rous Water councils and Northern Rivers Tourism for a moratorium on coal-seam gas exploration.

Ms Saffin said she had also been talking to New England independent MP Tony Windsor about a plan to require region-wide water assessments before miners could drill new gas wells.

But Mr Cansdell said harsh penalties contained in the Coalition’s coal-seam gas policy for miners who break laws aimed at protecting aquifers were adequate. That was particularly the case for Metgasco, which is setting up a gas-fired power plant near Casino and plans to build a pipeline to send gas to Queensland forexport.

In a statement released to the Australian Stock Exchange yesterday, Metgasco announced a study it commissioned late last year showed its planned pipeline could deliver US$29 billion over 20 years.

The study by Worley Parsons looked at pipelines delivering gas from Casino to Gladstone, the Port of Brisbane and a floating liquid natural gas development 30km off the coast of NSW. Mr Cansdell spoke highly of Metgasco’s openness in dealing with the community around Casino about its drilling methods.

He also took a swipe at the level of opposition to drilling in the region, saying it was largely inspired by the US documentary Gaslands, but the way coal-seam gas miners operated in Australia was different.

“It’s taken out of context,” Mr Cansdell said. “People are saying ‘that’s happening around here’ and the Greens are pushing that, but I have not seen any of that in Metgasco.”

Mr Cansdell suggested part of the support for a moratorium shown by public figures was based on a desire “to be everyone’s friend”.

The gas power stations being planned by Metgasco “will be a great contributor to lower carbon emissions and to moving an area of low economic growth forward,” he said.

Mr Cansdell said any gas miner that breached laws and damaged aquifers needed to face heavy fines.

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