Wednesday, 06 February 2013 09:31
Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke has expressed frustration at New South Wales’ demands for a different set of rules on coal seam gas mining, saying he will not rule out forcing the state to adopt federal protections.
Key independent Tony Windsor reportedly is demanding the Commonwealth impose stricter environmental assessments on his home state to protect water quality, telling Fairfax Media "it's D-Day", and that NSW isn't serious about the issue.
Mr Burke told ABC radio he shared the New England MP's frustration with the NSW government.
"The Victorian Government, even the Queensland Government, which I certainly don't see eye to eye on environmental issues, has been willing to sign the same sort of protocols to make sure that any approvals or consideration they have on coal seam gas has the best quality scientific information behind it," he said.
NSW wants a different set of rules.
"We've been trying to get the protocol negotiated and I'm deeply, deeply frustrated that NSW is not willing to do what South Australia, Victoria and Queensland have signed up to," Mr Burke said.
Mr Burke said the federal government was exploring "all the options" to resolve the dispute with NSW, adding: "I'm not ruling anything in or out as to how we handle this".
However, he denied he was being forced to take a tough stance against NSW by Mr Windsor, on whose vote the government relies.
"The frustration with NSW on this one has been building for some time," he said.
"We can't have a situation where NSW wants a weaker set of regulations on coal seam gas than what is going to apply in Victoria or Queensland."
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