MEDIA RELEASE: Coal Seam Gas Nightmare

“Do we really want Eastern Taranaki to turn into an industrial wasteland?” asks Climate Justice Taranaki spokesperson Teresa Goodin in response to Solid Energy’s announcement to focus on coal seam gas in Taranaki.

The state owned enterprise (SOE) announced yesterday they are applying to New Zealand Petroleum and Minerals for a five-year extension of its permits in eastern Taranaki to allow their coal seam gas project to move to an appraisal/discovery phase.

“Solid Energy’s announcement is particularly ironic, because just a few weeks ago at a screening of the documentary ‘Gasrush’ in New Plymouth about the Australian CSG industry, we had guys from the oil and gas industry there telling the audience afterwards that the documentary wasn’t relevant in Taranaki because it is mostly about CSG. Well, that documentary and the situation in Australia has become very relevant now, and I think it’s time for farmers and landowners in the back blocks of Eastern Taranaki to look into this issue, because you don’t have to dig too far to find how CSG has affected the farmers and the environment in Aussie. I would expect organisations like Federated Farmers and the Taranaki Rural Support Trust to investigate this issue and assess the potential impacts on their members and the future of food production in our region” said Ms Goodin.

“The Coal Seam Gas (CSG) industry in Australia has severely affected ground water aquifers. Water levels have dropped significantly in some areas, putting farming operations at great risk. Huge areas are condemned for storage of highly saline, toxic waste fluids as a result of this industry. We now see Australian farmers (graziers, wine growers), landowners, environmentalists and politicians organising en masse against the oil and gas industry as part of the ‘Lock the Gate’ campaign denying the gas companies access to their land.”

PEPANZ CEO David Robinson himself acknowledged the danger, “Coal seam gas is extracted using a pressure change within the structure created by extracting water from within the coal seam. Water management is a challenge for this industry. By comparison, conventional and tight gas resources are typically found at significantly greater depths.” [2]

Goodin emphasized, “Solid Energy is a SOE owned by all New Zealanders. We find it deeply worrying that a company owned by all of us is engaging in such life-threatening activities in our region. Solid Energy’s environmental track-record is far from rosy. Solid Energy has severely polluted the Ngakawau River from their West Coast Stockton Mine, driven the Mt Augustus native snail into extinction and are threatening rare abundant kiwi habitat in Happy Valley.”

“We will keep on organising resistance against oil, gas, coal and especially fracking in our communities. Although not all CSG wells require fracking, many do. This extraction technique is dangerous as it can have disastrous effects on ground water aquifers, requires toxic wastes to be disposed and stops us once again from moving towards renewable energy sources instead of burning fossil fuels” said Ms Goodin.

ENDS

[1] Please refer to our website –
https://climatejusticetaranaki.wordpress.com – for more information on our work and research.
[2] http://www.gisborneherald.co.nz/opinion/column/?id=27894 PEPANZ is the Petroleum Exploration and Production Association and was set up to represent private sector companies which hold petroleum exploration and mining permits, and service companies and individuals working in the industry. They act as a PR mouthpiece for the industry.

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