The Liberal party of Australia accepted a $25,000 contribution from a gas company months after it was charged over what has since emerged as potentially one of the country’s biggest environmental pollution cases.
Linc Energy gave $25,000 to the federal arm of the Liberal party some time between July 2014 and June 2015, according to Australian Electoral Commission records released on Monday.
The company, which had shifted its base from Australia to Singapore in 2013, was first charged in April 2014 over alleged serious environmental harm caused by gas leaks from Linc’s underground coal gasification plant near Chinchilla.
The prosecution continues, with Linc since hit with further criminal charges of wilfully causing serious environmental harm through toxic damage to air, groundwater and soil over up to 320 square kilometres of farmland.
Linc faces fines of up to $32.5m if found guilty.
Anti-gas industry protest group Lock The Gate called on the Liberal party to return the “tainted donations” it received from Linc after it was charged.Continue reading
Yesterday we shared the story of the kids across Australia who're taking up the Frackman's fight to protect our land, communities and water from fracking and unconventional gas.
One of these kids is Ben (10), from Albany, who was so inspired after watching Frackman that he wrote a speech which he delivered in his school playground.
“Fracking will make people sick and the ground won’t be able to stay strong and hold everything on top of the earth after all the bedrock is shifted” he explained.
Ben's mum Kymberly said she was “enormously proud”. We would be too!
Dayne (the Frackman) was also excited to hear about Ben's speech. "It makes me proud. On so many levels, this kid just gets it."
Here's Ben's speech, and a drawing he did of the Frackman.
We are so excited to see kids across Australia dressing up as Frackman. Especially since 12 year old Perth schoolgirl Claire Hickey was banned from wearing her Frackman costume to Book Week at Subiaco Primary School last week.
Gloucester siblings Aiden (11), Elise (10), Lucas (9) and Jake (8) donned their Frackman suits on Wednesday for a protest celebrating 100 weeks of community resistance to AGL’s Gloucester CSG operations. Previously, they had worn their Frackman costumes to lead a June protest march in Gloucester.
“We dressed as the Frackman because we wanted to show we are against the Gas. It poisons our river and hurts our community. It is breaking up friendships. We don’t want the gas in Gloucester”, Aiden said.
Their mother Nicky told us, “There is nothing more rewarding than hearing your children use their voice, watching them grow with confidence, and having a blast while doing it. They called the march, ‘the best day ever’.”
The kids added their personal touch to the white disposable workers’ overalls worn in the film, writing “Future Vet”, “Future Soldier” and “Future Engineer” on the back. But Aiden is now refurbishing his suit to read “Future Politician”, saying he hopes to get there “in ten years”.
Dayne (The Frackman) is delighted to hear about the “Frack Kids” taking on the cause. “It makes me proud, this was what I was hoping for. The whole point of the suit was that anyone could wear it, anyone can be The Frackman. At the end of the film, I say, ‘this is my story, what happens next is up to you.’ These kids took that and ran with it. On so many levels, these kids get it.”
READ THE FULL STORY on The Guardian.
As appeared in the The Nature Conservation Council website
6 July, 2015
The Nature Conservation Council has welcomed the government’s announcement that it will buy back and cancel the massive coal seam gas exploration licence that covers almost 7000 square kilometres from the Illawarra, through Sydney’s water catchment, north to the Central Coast.
Energy giant AGL announced today the results of its Upstream Gas Review, which included the announcement to dispose of the Petroleum Exploration Licence 2 (PEL 2).
“The government’s decision to buy back and cancel this CSG licence is a victory for commonsense,” said NCC Campaigns Director Daisy Barham.
“It vindicates those communities that have been concerned about CSG in our drinking water catchment for many years and who have campaigned vigorously for the government to make these areas off limits to this risky industry. This decision sets a new benchmark for protecting water catchments and communities across NSW from risky CSG developments. Our catchments should be permanently protected so the water security of future generations is not endangered by this risky industry."
“PEL 2, which covers almost 7000 square kilometres from the Illawarra, through Sydney’s water catchment and up to the Central Coast, should never have been issued because of the unacceptable risks CSG development poses to the critical water supply for Sydney’s four million people. Mr Baird should now address the existing threat posed by coal mining in Sydney’s drinking water catchment by stopping any further expansion of coal mines in these sensitive areas."
Wed July 1st 2015
Frackman, Dayne Pratzky, aka The Accidental Activist , is calling on Queensland’s Premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, to see the controversial film, Frackman, about Coal Seam Gas and Fracking, now screening in Brisbane.
This challenge comes on the heels of Dayne Pratzky’s media statements that Queensland’s favourite son, Darren Lockyer, might one day regret putting his name to the practise of fracking for coal seam gas in Queensland. http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/opinion/frackman-filmmaker- darren-lockyer-will-feel-shame-over-csg/story-fnihsr9v-1227411719741
Pratzky was reported in the Courier Mail as saying Roma-born Lockyer, a paid ambassador for Origin Energy’s $23 billion Australia Pacific gas project, would be “embarrassed and ashamed” once the “devastating” impacts of CSG extraction were felt.
There are some parallels between Dayne and the Queensland Premier – both have been dubbed “accidental” in their roles by the media.
Annastacia Palaszczuk was dubbed “The Accidental Premier” after her David and Goliath victory in the Queensland state election by winning back 35 seats earlier this year.
The movie, Frackman, is a David versus Goliath story about a knockabout Aussie bloke, Dayne Pratzky, referred to by the media as an “accidental activist”, who takes up a fight with the big boys and refuses to back down.“
I think the people of Queensland would like Annastacia to take her Cabinet Ministers to see the film for some home truths about the effects of coal seam gas on Queensland,” said Dayne Pratzky.
“I would like to personally invite her to attend a screening and join me at a Q&A.
“Many people whose lives are affected every day by CSG, particularly those in the Tara-Chinchilla region, would like to know what the Premier’s real opinion is of the industry’s practises. There are also indirect consequences on the Great Barrier Reef from port and dredging activities associated with the export of Qld Liquified Natural Gas (LNG)to China.
“Frackman’s aerial photography shows the shocking extent of the gas-fields across the Queensland landscape and there are anecdotes from affected landowners in the film. This should be seen by government to make sure decisions politicians make in the future about new CSG leases are truly in the best interests of Queenslanders. Despite the fact that the deals for CSG were done back in Anna Bligh’s government, it’s not too late to save much of Queensland from further damaging CSG activity, particularly to our aquifers and farming land.
“Annastacia Palaszczuk should encourage all Queensland politicians to see Frackman. It will help them to make better decisions about the future as it shows the downside of coal seam gas mining on Queensland,” said Pratzky.
Frackman is now screening in Brisbane after travelling around Australia to packed cinemas. The grass-roots campaign for Frackman, a movie-length documentary about ordinary Australians caught up in a multinational ‘gas rush’, went viral on social media, with views of the trailer on Facebook alone reaching one million in the first ten days.
Since then, Frackman has won Best Film at Byron Bay Film Festival, and Best Feature Film (Factual) at the Western Australian Screen Awards, its central character, Dayne Pratzky , has become a media superstar, and hundreds of individuals and community groups have requested to screen the film in their region using the “cinema on demand” platform Tugg that Frackman is partnering with. In Queensland the Lock the Gate Alliance is conducting many of the Tugg screenings. The trailer has been viewed in more than 30 countries, and even has some intrepid viewers in Antarctica. Thousands have joined in a lively commentary on the site.
The Queensland producer of Frackman, Trish Lake, says the documentary is very timely.
“We are seeing a spirited debate in the comments between those affected by coal seam gas, and those who work in the gas industry. But overall there are a huge number of comments from people who had no idea just how widespread the effects are of Big Gas in Australia.
“It’s a debate that is much overdue. People want to know more and they want to have a say. They don’t want to leave it to the politicians and “Big Gas” to make unilateral decisions about how energy impacts Australians’ health and their environment.”
There is currently a series of screenings throughout July at the Palace Centro Cinema in Brisbane. There are Q&A screenings tonight on Wed 1st July, then 15th and 22nd July.
Further screenings continue to roll out in cinemas throughout regional and metropolitan Australia, through an innovative “cinema on demand” campaign where audiences can book and organise screenings at local cinemas by a push of a button, through the Frackmanthemovie.com and Tugg.com.au websites. If you're interested in organizing a screening of Frackman near you - or would like to know if a screening is already happening in your area - go to www.tugg.com.au.
The film has been supported by Good Pitch Australia, Screen Australia, Screen Queensland and ScreenWest.
For further media inquiries contact:
+61 7 3252 4551 / 0412 189977.
The producers, Trish Lake and Simon Nasht, Director-Producer, Richard Todd, and Dayne ‘Frackman’ Pratzky are available for interview.
High res stills available on request.
Electronic press kit
Story by Will Glasgow appeared in the Australian Financial Review 31 May
The Baird government is under internal pressure to fix its approach to coal seam gas with a Liberal bankbencher warning the growing protest movement is preventing NSW from being seen as a more favourable mining investment destination than Tasmania.
And the businessman at the centre of the storm over the state's coal seam gas industry, Metgasco chief executive Peter Henderson, told The Australian Financial Review that the Baird government was in danger of making the situation worse.
"Here's the problem – if they continue with the policy of appeasement, they will lose. The other side will get stronger," Mr Henderson said.
Outspoken NSW Liberal Peter Phelps criticised the state's ongoing failure to catch up to Tasmania as a favoured mining investment destination, according to rankings by Canadian think tank the Fraser Institute.
"You've got a situation where it's more advantageous to invest in Tasmania or South Australia than NSW," Mr Phelps said.
"The [Baird] government has given up on rationality. It's very disappointing to me," he added.
NSW politics have been rocked over the past four years by a coalition of protesters that includes environmentalists, farmers, the Greens and influential radio broadcaster Alan Jones.
The state Labor party joined the fray in the lead up to March 28 election, as its leader Luke Foley campaigned on a promise of a permanent ban on the gas industry in the Northern Rivers region at the top of the state.
This political rhetoric has been embraced by many of the state's Nationals. Recently elected National Ben Franklin, who as state director ran the party's campaign at the election, said in his maiden speech that issues other than science were at the heart of the debate. More
Appearring in the Sydney Morning Herald 25 May
Story by Anne Davies
Photo: Sasha Woolley
Despite forecasts of falling demand for gas in NSW, the push for further commercial exploitation of coal seam gas (CSG) in some of the state's richest agricultural areas is about to regain momentum following the NSW election.
Even though the Australian Energy Market Regulator says there is now no supply gap in NSW and demand for gas will fall 17 per cent by 2019, the CSG industry is preparing to step up its efforts, arguing that the issue is now one of "energy security" for NSW .
Numerous government decisions will be taken in coming months that will either constrain the CSG industry or allow it to expand. There's currently a freeze on new exploration licences that will be replaced with a strategic release framework, new codes and conditions are being finalised, and CSG will soon be regulated by the Environment Protection Agency. The NSW government also plans to have a "use it or lose it" regime for licences. It has decided not to appeal against an overturning of its suspension of Metgasco's gas drilling licence near LIsmore.
Assisting the industry are an army of former political staff and former politicians, many of whom had a role in the regulation of the industry before jumping the fence to industry. A few have come back the other way, moving from senior jobs in the major gas companies to senior advising roles in ministers offices.
The accompanying graphic reveals the extent of cross pollination between those who set policy at a state and federal level in the coal seam gas industry and those who seek to profit from it - as direct participants or as advocates for the companies.
Originally appeared in Huffington Post 18 May
Reporting by Anna Driver and Terry Wade
HOUSTON May 18 (Reuters) - Texas Governor Greg Abbott on Monday signed a bill into law that prohibits cities and towns from banning an oil drilling practice known as hydraulic fracking, giving the state sole authority over oil and gas regulation.
Lawmakers in Texas, a state that is home to the two of the most productive U.S. shale oil fields, have been under pressure to halt an anti-fracking movement since November, when voters in the town of Denton voted to ban the oil and gas extraction technique.
"This law ensures that Texas avoids a patchwork quilt of regulations that differ from region to region, differ from county to county or city to city," Abbott, a Republican, said in a statement.
In fracking, a mixture of pressurized water, sand and chemicals is directed at rock to unlock oil and natural gas. Operators say it is safe because, but many environmental groups oppose the practice, calling it wasteful, polluting, dirty and noisy.
Fracking was pioneered at the Barnett shale natural gas formation in north Texas where Denton is located. Most of the crude output in Texas comes from fracked wells in the Eagle Ford and Permian fields to the south and west.
Read the full story
Huffington Post ~ http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/05/18/texas-fracking-ban_n_7310072.html
Texas Tribune ~ https://www.texastribune.org/2015/05/18/abbott-signs-denton-fracking-bill/
JOIN US & TAKE A STAND ~ http://ow.ly/MM6N8
Joe appeared on the Alan Jones Breakfast Show 14 May ~ LISTEN TO THE SEGMENT
Farmers have been allowed to run rough-shod over landholders, with more than 5,000 production wells now operating across Queensland.
One of these farmers is Joe Hill. A 70-something farmer from Columboola west of the Darling Downs town of Chinchilla. He runs a beautiful Angus cattle breeding property and has always opposed attempts by coal seam gas companies to come onto his property to explore for gas, produce it or put pipelines across it. In fact, Joe has very staunchly “locked his gate” and tells anyone from the companies who are silly enough to try to enter his property to “push off.” Joe’s main concern has always been that water from CSG operations might cause contamination in the beef he produces. One can only imagine his horror, then, when a recent heavy downpour caused an overflow from a holding pond on a neighbour’s property to push polluted CSG water to flood across his property, filling the melon holes on his rich, black, brigalow soil and his dam.
What has happened to Joe is merely one of an increasing number of serious incidents occurring across the western Darling Downs wherever CSG companies are active. In nearby Hopeland, 10 kilometres south of Chinchilla, officers from the Queensland department of Environment and Heritage Protection recently found high levels of carbon monoxide, hydrogen sulphide and hydrogen in the rich, alluvial soils and immediately set up a 15 kilometre radius exclusion zone where farmers were strongly advised to refrain from any excavation.
ABC Lateline - http://www.abc.net.au/lateline/content/2014/s4119465.htm
A Cautionary CSG tale by Elizabeth Ure - http://greens.org.au/magazine/qld/cautionary-csg-tale
Letters: MONDAY night I attended the Gympie screening of the film Frackman.
The Cooloola Community Action group, formed because of concern about the multitude of coal and CSG mining leases in this region, organised this screening by canvassing concerned locals. They ended up selling out the Gympie Cinema.
The film showed how farmland and water resources are completely ruined by these types of mining, due to the overuse of water and the introduction of toxic chemicals to the landscape. The CCA invited the Mayor and councillors to attend. They did not receive the courtesy of a reply, much less attendance at this important event.
This is a sad indictment of the Gympie Regional Council, as the film was very educative, and an ominous warning against apathy.
It illustrated the importance of stopping large foreign-owned companies, such as Halliburton, from signing up farmers to contracts that can ruin local farmland and ruin the health and welfare of people in these mining districts.
Frackman is being screened throughout Australia through crowd funding. Hopefully all Australians will eventually see this important film.
Many thanks to Bronwyn Marsh and Nari Lindsay of CCA for this initiative.
Letter as appeared in Gympie Times
Peter Rowe speaks to Minister for Mining and Petroleum Bill Marmion
Listen to the full podcast
Sad news today, as the NSW Supreme Court made a ruling that will see coal seam gas mining resume in the Northern Rivers.
After thousands blockaded at Bentley in protest against coal seam gas activities by the company Metgasco, the NSW government suspended the licence. But Metgasco
challenged the NSW government in court, and this morning the court ruled in their favour. Drilling at Bentley will resume almost immediately.
Is it fair that a multinational company can challenge the government for listening to the concerns of the community?
THE AUSTRALIAN APRIL 06, 2015 12:00AM
Paul Cleary - Senior Writer
Image: News Corp Australia
Anti CSG activist Dayne Pratzky also known as Dayne Pratzky, aka “Frackman”, with a flare at a gas well near the Ruby Spur pipeline in Queensland.
People living on the frontline of Australia’s resources rush have had their lives transformed for better and for worse. Many of these communities have benefited from jobs growth, but they’ve also had to live with a 24/7 barrage of fumes, dust, noise and other ill-effects from the industrialisation of rural areas.
Queensland’s coal-seam gas, for example, created thousands of jobs in the wake of the financial crisis but it poses risks to the health of people living near these operations, and to land and water resources. Residents living near gas wells and plants have reported nose bleeds, headaches and cramps.
The sheer scale, complexity and speed of the CSG rollout has made it very difficult for communities and the media to make government and industry accountable.
So the work of former Tara resident Dayne Pratzky to monitor and document the effects of this burgeoning industry through guerilla tactics makes for compelling viewing.
Pratzky is the subject of a documentary film, Frackman, which has had more than 100 screenings around Australia. It follows in the tradition of the US film Gasland, but the sheer passion, capacity and creativity that Pratzky brings to the task of probing the industry’s operations is quite formidable.
Pratzky is a former construction worker and one-time pig shooter who bought a small scrubby block near Tara, 300km west of Brisbane, where he hoped to build a house and live a quiet life. He is no greenie. Co-producer Simon Nasht says the film’s strength is that it is character-driven rather than issues-based.
Director Richard Todd initially filmed a raft of anti-CSG activists, including radio host Alan Jones, but in the final cut it was Pratzky who emerged as the standout character.
Nasht, who is in partnership with entrepreneur Dick Smith via a company called Smith & Nasht, said he approached the ABC to back the film but it was reluctant after being “monstered” by the industry. Nor was a standard theatrical release viable, so the company has relied largely on crowdsourcing through the tugg.com.au website, which allows people to ask theatres to screen films.
Story appeared in Canberra Times April 4
By Rosslyn Beeby
The NSW branch of the County Women's Association has endorsed the anti-fracking movement, using its Facebook site to urge members to attend a protest rally in Sydney next month.
''Yes, it's quite an unusual step for us. We usually write letters and tend to work a little more behind the scenes,'' branch president Elaine Armstrong said.
''But coal seam gas mining is a major concern for our members. It will adversely affect our future food supplies, we'll see good farming land go out of production and pressure from gas companies wanting access to farms is also adding to the stress and complications of farming.''
Mrs Armstrong said the CWA had hoped the NSW government would heed calls from rural communities for a moratorium on coal seam gas exploration.
''That didn't happen, so we feel the government hasn't fulfilled what was expected of them. They have broken promises,'' she said.
The CWA is one of eight groups actively supporting an anti-fracking rally to be held outside the Parliament of NSW in Sydney on May 1 that will see protesters bused in from across the state. Taking a stand on coal seam gas mining puts the normally apolitical women's voluntary group - Australia's biggest at 44,000 members - in radical company.
Organised by NSW Farmers to highlight rural concerns over food security and groundwater pollution, the ''Protect Our Land and Water'' rally is also supported by social media activist group GetUp and rural anti-fracking campaign alliance Lock the Gate.
Yesterday morning, the CWA posted a link to the rally on its Facebook page, suggesting members ''make the effort to be there''.
Story by Lucy Cormack
Photo by Lucy Cormack
In the 27 years since it was first contested, the sunny seat of Ballina has known only one MP, but counts on Saturday night showed the sunshine could finally turn Green.
With 51.2 per cent of the votes counted, Ballina showed a 30 per cent swing from the Nationals to Greens candidate Tamara Smith.
The issue of coal seam gas has changed the political landscape in Ballina.The issue of coal seam gas has changed the political landscape in Ballina. Photo: Lucy CormackLabor looked set for a safe gain at around 8.30pm on Saturday, but by 9pm after preference counts showed Ms Smith with 56.4 per cent of the votes, to Nationals' Kris Beavis' 43.6 per cent.
Labor's Paul Spooner conceded defeat to Tamara Smith on Saturday night.
Retiring National Don Page has sat in the seat since 1988 and said he would be disappointed to see Mr Beavis lose the race.
The Nationals won Ballina on a 25 per cent margin in 2011, but the issue of coal seam ignited a swing in the north coast seat.
In Sydney Mike Baird has called the election a referendum on privatisation, but standing proudly in her own school first-time Greens candidate and English teacher Tamara Smith said: "in Ballina, it's a referendum on CSG."
Labor's Paul Spooner was relying on Greens preferences to cripple the Nationals' 24.6 per cent margin, a task he managed early on in the count.
Read the full story
Story by Amanda Hooton
Dayne Pratzky doesn't look like a film star. He's too stocky, too sun damaged, too devoid of hair product. But he does look strong, like a man who'd be hard to wear down. Which is just as well, because when he picks me up from Toowoomba airport we're at the start of an epic, 14-hour, 500-kilometre day together. He opens the door of the rental car with a flourish. "Put the aircon on, or the radio, or whatever you like," he says, gesturing grandly. "It's our car!"
A decade ago, Dayne Pratzky was a 30-year-old, pig-shooting, diesel-driving construction worker who bought 100 hectares of scrubby land near Tara, in Queensland's Western Downs, hoping to improve it and sell it on. There was no power, sewerage or water, but in 2008 he dug a dam and started building a house from trees felled on his property. And then one day, a coal seam gas (CSG) company rolled down his driveway.
Pratzky's six-year battle to stop CSG mining on his land is now the subject of a new documentary, Frackman. The morning we meet, the trailer has just passed Russell Crowe's The Water Diviner in online hits. How does that feel, I ask, as we sweep through the Toowoomba roundabouts. "Well, bad for Russell, obviously," says Pratzky, grinning. "Poor old Rusty, lagging behind." Then he shrugs. "Who wants to wake up with a camera in your face? Not me, it's horrible. But it's part of it. When the gas company came, I didn't have a choice. I had no money, nowhere to go. I had a beat-up crappy car, my land, and a home I'd built with my bare hands. And I was going to be just wiped off the face of the earth. So I fought."
Almost 440 million hectares of Australia is covered by coal and gas licences or applications, an area 18 times the size of Great Britain. Of the 5000-odd wells operating in eastern Australia, the vast majority are in Queensland, where Frackman is set. According to Paul Fennelly, acting CEO of APPEA, the peak body representing Australia's oil and gas industry, "Frackman bears little resemblance to reality; nor any of the work done by numerous scientific and government bodies underpinning an industry that has been safely operating in Queensland for 20 years."
Voters in NSW and Victoria, however, seem oddly unconvinced by the Queensland experience: to date, both states have held back CSG development via a series of moratoriums. In Victoria (which has no wells at all), the freeze has been extended until a parliamentary inquiry is complete. But if the Baird government retains power following next weekend's NSW election, it will begin considering projects around the state including in Sydney's sensitive drinking water catchments - according to a new assessment framework.
Pratzky himself is a New South Welshman by birth, and you get the sense of a cocky, wild kid - "I was a total ratbag at school" - who realised early he could talk his way out of, or into, most things. He tried butchery and spray-painting as a teenager, then got himself hired as a commercial diver without so much as a single PADI lesson to his name. ("I fessed up on the first day, and the boys helped me out. It was a great job.") When he wanted a job on the Parramatta rail link project, he turned up at the site office at 5am for three weeks running. "The guy was like, 'You again! Are you f...ing serious?' But three weeks later he said, 'This employment company is waiting for you to call,' and I got the job."Continue reading
NSW Opposition Leader Luke Foley has vowed to permanently ban coal seam gas production in the Pilliga Forest in the state's north-west.
Mr Foley said the risks of water contamination were too big to ignore.
"There's some parts of the state that must be off limits to coal seam gas permanently, and the recharge zone for the Great Artesian Basin has to be one of them," he said.
Energy giant Santos is exploring for coal seam gas in the Pilliga, which it anticipates could one day supply 50 per cent of the state's gas needs.
Mr Foley said he would not cancel the company's exploration licence but would never grant it a production licence for its Narrabri project.
"I'm making it very clear if there's a change of government on March 28 that there won't be a future for that project," he said.
Labor said it did not believe it would need to pay Santos compensation.
"There's never guarantees when exploration licences are issued," Mr Foley said.
The ban would include the Pilliga East Conservation Area and State Forest, as well as the Bibblewindi and Jacks Creek state forests.
Labor's policy was welcomed by Anne Kennedy, whose family has farmed in Coonamble since 1968.
"Total jubilation, it's wonderful," she said.Continue reading
Story by Kate Sheppard
WASHINGTON -- The Department of Interior released new rules for hydraulic fracturing for oil and gas on public lands in the United States on Friday, the first significant update to the regulations in three decades.
"Decades-old regulations don't take into account current technology for hydraulic fracturing," said Interior Sec. Sally Jewell in a call with reporters Friday. The new rules will require companies drilling on public lands to disclose the chemicals they are using to the Bureau of Land Management, will set higher standards for the storage of wastewater from the fracking process, and will require validation of well integrity.
There are 100,000 oil and gas wells on public lands across the U.S., according to the department, and 90 percent of those in operation use hydraulic fracturing, a process that uses a high-pressure stream of water, sand and chemicals to tap into oil and gas reserves. Friday's final rule applies only to development on public lands, however, not to the much more prolific development of state and private land. The Bureau of Land Management oversees 756 million acres of public land across the country.
"It's important that the public has confidence that it's being done safely," said Jewell. "I don't think anybody would say it's common sense to keep regulations in place that were created 30 years ago."
Under the rules, companies drilling on public lands will need to disclose the chemicals they are using through FracFocus, an industry-sponsored website, and submit that information within 30 days of beginning the fracking operation. BLM Director Neil Kornze said that the rule does allow for "limited exceptions for disclosure" under trade secret laws, but that BLM will be able to access a listing of all chemicals in the event of a spill or other accident.
The Department of Interior said it received 1.5 million comments on the draft version of the rules, which were released in May 2013.
Complaints about the new rules came from all directions Friday. A group of five environmental organizations, including Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth and the Center for Biological Diversity, issued a statement calling the rules "toothless," and argued that they give too much leeway for the further development of public lands in an era when climate change considerations should be pushing the U.S. away from fossil fuels.
Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.), ranking member of the House Natural Resources Committee, said in a statement that the regulation "lets industry off the hook." "Rather than raising the bar, the Bureau settled for the lowest common denominator ... Half measures aren't a realistic response to the situation we face today," he said.
Story by Chris Dobney
Dayne Pratzky first toured the northern rivers with a film in 2010. That film was Gasland – and it effectively woke up our region to the threat of CSG.
The self-described ‘blockie from Tara’ and ‘world’s most unlikely activist’ is back, this time with a film about his own struggles against CSG miners in Queensland. Frackman, the remarkable tale of what Dayne has been up to in the intervening years, has sold out at almost every showing, including four in the northern rivers – with two more now scheduled.
And while many such outings – like last night’s screening and Q&A at Pighouse Flicks – provide great emotional reinforcement for the converted, Dayne says there are plenty of CSG sceptics who come along only to leave the cinema completely won over.
The movie, which remarkably obtained funding from the Queensland and federal film funding bodies, shows Dayne’s mounting concern for friends’ families living in the Tara gasfield and his increasingly desperate actions to halt the advance of the companies.
In one startling scene, Dayne breaks into a Haliburton compound to strap a tracking device onto a vehicle. In others, he risks his own health to obtain air and water samples from CSG wells.
But the film also traces his emotional highs and lows and his emerging online romance with Wendy, a fellow CSG activist from Pittsburgh, USA.
For those who don’t have the opportunity to get out to see the film, it is briefly available (for the next three days only) for download at the Frackman website.
Read the full story
FORMER NSW governor Dame Marie Bashir says the destruction of Australian farmland for mining is a "crisis" that must stop, adding: "I have never been so emphatic or political in my life."
It is believed to be the first time Dame Marie has spoken out strongly against mining after 13 years in the traditionally non-political role of NSW governor. The beloved Dame, who retired late last year, also said her fears about foreign ownership of Australian land brought out her "nasty side".
Addressing a crowd of women at an International Women's Day event in Sydney on Sunday, Dame Marie said Australia was in the incredible position of being able to "help to feed the world".
"And of course, what is the counter to that? Digging up precious farmland for coal … we're expected to be leaving the burning of fossil fuels behind because of the environment. This is surely contradictory," she said.
Vision: Land, Water, Future.
Read the full articles below
Alan Jones talks to Drew Hutton about the discovery of toxic gases on prime Queensland farmland.
By Marco Magasic
SINCE a coal seam gas mining company took over his land at Tara, Queensland, farmer Dayne Partzky has been campaigning to get them off again, and warn the rest of Australia of CSG mining's consequences.
Mr Partzky stars in a movie, Frackman, about his personal struggle, which is on tonight at the Saraton Theatre, Grafton.
"The movie gives you a personal insight into what happens when the CSG industry lands on your doorstop," he said.
"At first I supported CSG mining but I was blinded by their rhetoric.
"I thought I was going to do well financially, but I didn't."
He said Frackman was very personal.
"It's a personal story so I'm not comfortable with it," Mr Partzky said.
"I've seen it once and I'll never see it again, it brings back too many memories.
"That's just my story. There are thousands of other families that have the same problem that are not having a film made about them."
Mr Partzky has since moved to Forster, but said he still did not feel safe from the affects of CSG mining.Continue reading
Peter Hannam, Environment Editor, The Sydney Morning Herald
Photo: Ryan Osland
The Baird government has cancelled two petroleum exploration permits for coal seam gas formerly held by Pangaea Resources in a bid to ease concern about the industry in the state.
Minister for Resources and Energy Anthony Roberts on Wednesday said the government had extinguished Pangaea's two petroleum exploration licences, numbered 437 and 476, covering about 15,600 square kilometres in northern NSW.
The electorates covered by the permits include Myall Lakes and the Upper Hunter for the 476 licence and the Northern Tablelands for the 437 licence. The electorates are held by Nationals MLAs Stephen Bromhead, George Souris and Adam Marshall respectively.Continue reading
Paul Barclay from ABCs Big Ideas radio program, speaks to our anti fracking activist, Dayne Pratzky, the subject of Frackman.
The interview comes on the back of a monumental decision out of Tasmania, who has announced a ban on the practice of hydraulic fracturing to extract coal seam gas for five years.
In this informative segment, Paul speaks with Dayne about Frackman, his journey, and the future of coal seam gas industry, as well as hearing from Brett Hall, a Tasmanian farmer, Tick Wilkinson, Chief Techniqual Officer with Australian Petroleum Production & Exploratopn, and Jan David, CEO of Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association.
Big Ideas brings you the best of talks, forums, debates, and festivals held in Australia and around the world, casting light on the major social, cultural, scientific and political issues.
By Samantha Turnbull
A former construction worker, logger and pig hunter has become an unlikely superhero to supporters of the anti-coal seam gas movement.
Dayne Pratzky is the star of Frackman - a film touring New South Wales ahead of the State election with the aim of creating awareness of the alleged threats of coal seam gas to water, land and human health. "I used to work in Sydney building the Lane Cove tunnel, and before that I was cutting down trees in Mudgee and over the years I've also been a kangaroo harvester and pig shooter," Pratzky said. "So to say I was a 'greenie' or environmentalist would be a mistake." Pratzky became an 'accidental activist' when he bought a property in Western Queensland's Tara where a gas exploration company wanted to drill wells. "They demanded access to my land, which I refused," Pratzky said.
Full interview here;
Story by Javier Encalada
DAYNE Pratzky is The Frackman and the movie documenting his adventures fighting the gas industry in Queensland is coming to the Northern Rivers.
Mr Pratzky is the embodiment of the Aussie larrikin. A party boy in Sydney, he moved to Chinchilla in western Queensland to hunt pigs and build a farm.
Hardly your average environmental activist.
But Mr Pratzky's life changed when Queensland Gas Company (QGC) started mining operations on his property.
The 90-minute film chronicles the ups and downs of Mr Pratzky's fight to have QCG removed from his land.
Mr Pratzky dismissed the idea that some footage included in the film could prompt gas companies to initiate legal action against him.
Read the full story
Point 1. One major problem with CSG in Australia is that it can pollute the acquirers and yet Australia is the driest inhabited continent on earth.
Point 2. We don’t need CSG. If you look at the Zero Carbon Australia report coming out of the university of Melbourne we can get all of our electricity, including base load, from just 2 of the 15 renewables and set up and running within 10 years and will average out over 30 years at one third of the price of burning coal.
CSG is a blind pathway, will leave us with a stranded asset, will damage the environment and will leave us economically worse off than if we tried to develop new technology that we could sell to the rest of the world.
More about Zero Carbon Australia
Buy tickets to Frackman to learn about Dayne's journey
Story by Steve Wright
GOVERNMENTS are right to support the principle of freedom of expression, but it is another thing altogether to allocate public money to an anti-industry campaign tool.
That is what is occurring with the bankrolling of a $1.2 million so-called 'documentary' about the natural gas industry, which was unveiled in Adelaide on Tuesday and is set to be shown to Sydney media on Thursday.
While Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane has been busting a gut trying to work through a looming east coast gas supply crunch for tens of thousands of businesses and millions of gas consumers, arms of government have been busily funding a big element of the activist toolkit being used in the campaign to permanently shut down supply.
But it was not only Screen Australia that indulged the film-makers. ScreenWest and Screen Queensland also tipped in hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The proposal's name, Frackman The Movie, should have been enough to raise their antenna. A 30-second internet search would then have highlighted a person who has been arrested a number of times when undertaking his Frackman fossil fuel protest activities.
The funding agencies might also have noted the stated intentions of the movie producers, to create a film that changes voter preferences, sparks a royal commission and is added to the national secondary school curriculum.
Queensland Resources Council chief Michael Roche belled the cat in Brisbane last week, pinpointing the movie funding issue and also highlighting the other less direct, but no less real, taxpayer support available to anti-industry protest groups.Continue reading
Crikey has reported that AGL’s Managing Director and CEO, Michael Fraser, admitted that extensive current and future gas fields across New South Wales aren’t essential for the state’s energy supply.
Fraser let slip that the Bass Strait gas supply was sufficient for New South Wales. Of particular note was Fraser’s assurance that Victoria’s Bass Strait supply would be enough to avoid shortages for NSW.
This is not the second time the gas companies have undermined their own claims about an energy crisis. In 2012, BHP’s chief executive Mike Yeager announced that the Bass Strait would supply the Eastern seaboard ‘indefinitely.’
It’s hard to believe these are the same companies telling us we need to rush into massive CSG operations in NSW.
Unlock the full article on Crikey here:
BTEX chemicals, some of the more dangerous chemicals used in coal seam gas drilling and fracking, have been banned in New South Wales since 2012. So when they were detected in flowback water samples at gas fields in Gloucester, operators AGL were in trouble.
The Sydney Morning Herald reports that AGL’s activities in the region have been suspended by Energy Minister Anthony Roberts, pending an investigation by the Environmental Protection Authority. The company has stated that these chemicals were not used in their fracking process, as per regulations, and that they were most likely naturally present in the coal seams. BTEX chemicals are Benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylenes. AGL voluntarily suspended its operations ahead of official notice, ‘in the interests of acting prudently.’
However, AGL has come under fire for not disclosing information about the presence of these chemicals sooner, as it has been aware of them since January 15. A spokesperson for the EPA has said, ‘the EPA is very concerned at AGL’s lack of timeliness and transparency in informing us of these results and we will be conducting a full investigation.’Continue reading
Mining Australia and the Courier Mail have taken note of Frackman’s public funding, highlighting what they see as a contradiction between the pro coal seam gas attitudes of Queensland and Western Australia’s state governments and the funding that the film has received from Screen Australia, Screen Queensland, and Screen West.
Screen Australia contributed around $200,000 to the film, Screen Queensland a further $200,000, and Screen West $156,000.
Co-producer Trish Lake, from Freshwater Pictures, said the government funding was an issue of free speech.
‘It could not be more obvious that freedom of speech is why we (film makers) exist and why there’s such a huge outpouring of concern because there are people who don’t want to see that sort of freedom,’ she said.
Read the full articles here:Continue reading
In response, Dayne warned Tasmanians of the effects of coal seam gas that he has witnessed, describing the ‘environmental disaster that is playing out in Queensland’ as an ‘absolute travesty.’ He also emphasized the risk that the coal seam gas industry poses to farmers in the region: ‘some of the produce in Launceston is second to none: it’s world class. And having a toxic industry move into your area will potentially ruin that brand.’
A moratorium on fracking in Tasmania is set to expire in March 2015.
As per ABC Drive segment with Penny Terry 4pm - 6pm;Continue reading
After a successful pitch at the Sydney Opera House to a 300 strong crowd of philanthropists, not-for-profit agencies, and other pressure groups, Frackman has been the proud recipient of a significant funding pledge.
Good Pitch is the international documentary forum devised by BRITDOC and Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program. Good Pitch Australia is an initiative of Shark Island Institute and Documentary Australia Foundation.
Frackman has been one of seven films chosen, which collectively received more than $2 million in funding. This support makes a huge difference for Frackman, an independent film made possible by a large grassroots support network.
Beadie Finzi, director of Good Pitch, said of the program: ‘Australia has got all the ingredients for a great Good Pitch… a tremendous hub of creative documentary filmmakers and a community bristling with independence and determination to get films made and seen nationally and internationally.’
Reporter: Liz Hayes
Producers: Stephen Rice, Jo Townsend
A big company marches onto your land, sinks a well without your permission and then proceeds to threaten your livelihood.
And it does it all with the consent and approval of the government.
Now this would be bad enough if it was happening halfway across the world in some tin pot dictatorship.
But this injustice is being perpetrated in our backyard.
And it's our laws and our politicians who are letting it happen.