Gasfield Free Northern Rivers Newsletter: December 2013
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Welcome to the bumper end of year edition of our newsletter! It’s been a big year and we’d like to thank you for all your amazing efforts to keep our beautiful region Gasfield Free in 2013. We look forward to continuing to grow the strength of our movement throughout 2014 to protect all that we hold dear about the Northern Rivers.
The big news this week is that our regional alliance, after conversations with communities across the region, has decided to change our name from ‘CSG Free Northern Rivers’ to ‘Gasfield Free Northern Rivers’! This change recognises that it’s not just CSG that threatens our region, with companies now actively exploring for ‘tight gas’ in the Northern Rivers. The extraction of these tight gas resources would require the same invasive gasfield development and hazardous techniques required in CSG production, to which the Northern Rivers community has so clearly stated its opposition. You can find our website at both csgfreenorthernrivers.org and gasfieldfreenorthernrivers.org and our Facebook page at the same URL as before.
We’ve also developed an eye-catching logo to mark the name change- check it out below. Our regional pamphlet has been redesigned and updated and goes to print this week so get in touch if you would like some for use at stalls and info. meetings. A big thank you to Lynette of Lynette Eggins Design for her great work on these!
In the last few months there has been lots of action in state politics with the government finally getting around to regulation of residential exclusion zones for CSG operations. The state government has also recently passed legislation that allows the Government to cancel or refuse mining and petroleum licences on public interest grounds. We’re calling on them to use these provisions to permanently ban the unconventional gas industry in the Northern Rivers. There are also moves afoot to amend the Petroleum Onshore Act in ways that further disadvantage landholders. Stay tuned for details of how you can have an input on this.
Representatives from our region recently laid it on the line at a meeting with Federal Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane – telling him that Metgasco should expect a ‘world of pain’ in the region and prepare an exit strategy from the region, and stating that CSG is now a massive test of democracy. They noted that 119 Northern Rivers communities have now declared themselves gasfield free, that a recent poll shows almost two-thirds of people are opposed to CSG in the Richmond Valley, and that local candidates from all sides of politics united during the last election to oppose the industry.
Metgasco is progressing plans to drill the Rosella E01 at a site around 15 km west of Lismore. This exploration well is targeting gas in the Greater Mackellar sandstone structures of the Clarence Moreton Basin. Whilst Metgasco are generally referring to this as a ‘conventional’ well, their documents clearly state that they are also assessing the ‘tight’ gas potential in the area. Tight gas is gas that is held in non porous, impermeable rock and it always requires fracking to extract commercial quantities of gas. It also requires other hazardous techniques such as acidation, where acid is pumped into the rock to improve gas flow. Of course, similar to coal seam gas, tight gas operations also require massive numbers of wells and all the associated roads, pipelines and infrastructure.
The local Bentley/Bungabee community, where community surveys show that 85% want their locality gas field free, are not happy with this news. They have initiated ongoing Flash mob actions at the nearby Naughton’s Gap intersection and elsewhere to raise aware about the drilling program. Stay tuned for further information about Bentley on our website and Facebook page.
There is ongoing protest action taking place at the Pilliga Forest where Santos are commencing exploration activities. Santos ultimately plan to drill upwards of 850 wells across the Pilliga, the largest inland forest left in NSW, and the recharge zone for the Great Artesian Basin. Many Northern Rivers residents have visited the protest camp in recent weeks to lend their support to the actions to highlight the destruction of this important natural area. To find out how you can help check out the Pilliga protector FB page.
A new initiative has just been launched in NSW, called the ‘Our Land, Our Water, Our Future’ Campaign. This campaign aims to unite community groups from across the state to generate the pressure to motivate our political leaders to change the law to protect our land, water and communities from reckless coal and gas mining. To join this campaign go to the campaign website.
Communities in Action
As usual, individuals and groups across the region are keeping busy in their efforts to protect our land, water and communities. The highlights from the last couple of months are:
The combined Kyogle ‘Gasfield Free Declaration Day’ and ‘CSG & Your Health Report Launch’ was an outstanding event, with 240 people in attendance for an awesome show of community spirit and informative presentations from Dr Wayne Sommerville and Dr Marianne Lloyd-Smith. More than 2400 residents in the town and surrounding valleys were surveyed, with 160 roads and 91% of residents declaring themselves Gasfield Free! You can read and download Wayne’s “CSG & Your Health” Report here.
The Franklin family from Glenugie travelled from Grafton to Canberra on horseback raising awareness of the impacts of unconventional gas mining in the towns and hamlets along the way. Their epic four month long journey ended on the 3rd December with speeches and meetings with politicians on the lawns of Parliament House.
The irrepressible Knitting Nannas Against Gas are regularly in action outside Metgasco headquarters in Casino and Thomas George’s office in Lismore. Check out their website and Facebook page for details of KNAG actions.
And finally, huge congratulations are in order for Luke Vasella, who won an Australian Songwriters Association award for his CSG related song “The Mighty Dollar.” Luke’s music is ubiquitous with our social movement in the Northern Rivers and this honour is a fitting reward for the many hours he has spent entertaining people at actions and events across the region.
Gasfield Free Northern Rivers