Monday, 11 February 2013 14:35
Environmental review processes for two huge coal seam gas projects in Queensland were thorough, Australia's peak gas body says.
Anti-CSG campaigners are seeking an investigation amid reports public servants were pressured by the former Bligh government to sign off on the projects quickly.
The Courier-Mail says documents obtained through freedom of information show public servants were subjected to government demands that two major projects be approved within weeks of each other.
The documents show that as the $18 billion Santos GLNG project was nearing approval in May 2010, public servants were hit with government demands to also tackle the $16 billion QGC project - and then the Origin-led APLNG proposal, approved in November of the same year.
The paper also said that just days before the QGC approval was granted, public servants warned the government's assessment team that they still had not been given any detailed information on pipelines and the location of wells.
They also warned a long list of environmental issues had not been fully analysed.
The documents show public servants believed they needed to provide a "bankable outcome" even without all the information that normally would be necessary for the government to grant approvals.
On Monday, the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association (APPEA) said both the Santos GLNG and and Origin-led APLNG project had gone through complicated and extensive approvals process.
"We provided every bit of information that we were asked for," APPEA spokesman Rick Wilkinson told ABC radio.
"That's all we can and should be able to do from our side of the fence."
Mr Wilkinson said the industry was prepared to do the right thing if environmental regulations were found to be lacking.
"... where regulation is required, where something is being missed, absolutely."
The anti-CSG group, the Lock the Gate Alliance, says it will lodge a complaint against for former Bligh government with the Crime and Misconduct Commission.
Group president Drew Hutton said the Bligh administration was responsible for the latest concerns, but he's worried the Newman government could be worse.
"The industry have done appalling EIS's ... but it's up to the government to say 'this is just not good enough. Go back and do it again."
He said the Newman government's promise to cut so-called green tape for CSG projects could mean an even less robust system.
"People will not give it anywhere near the same scrutiny that they got under the Bligh government. They are going in exactly the wrong direction," Mr Hutton said.
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