Socialist Alliance welcomes cancellation of Sydney CSG License

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Socialist Alliance welcomes the news (March 6) that the Baird government has cancelled the coal seam gas (CSG) license covering metropolitan Sydney (PEL 463).

This is a victory for tens of thousands of people across NSW who have campaigned against the invasive and dangerous CSG industry. It also shows what groups of committed activists can achieve. PEL 463 should never have been granted (under Labor) and should never have been renewed (under the Coalition).

The campaign against CSG across NSW has come a long way in just a few years.

Having seen the damage caused by the industry in Queensland both to human health and the environment, many non-activists have become activists – committed to try and prevent CSG from becoming established in NSW.

It’s been their painstaking and community building work which has pushed the NSW government, and now the ALP opposition, to re-look at just how much they back the CSG industry.

When farmers, city folk and school kids all come together to protect land and water, the alliances are powerful.

Initially, the Baird government was trying all it could to ensure CSG did not become an election issue. Its “gas plan”, adopted towards the end of last year, pledged to put all new CSG projects on hold and rationalise the existing ones.

But because community opposition has put pressure on all the parties in the lead-up to the elections, the Baird government had to act. Earlier in the week, it cancelled two licenses held by Pangea (Myall Lakes and the Upper Hunter and the Northern Tablelands). It has now put the issue firmly on the election agenda.

Premier Baird announced the government’s decision to cancel PEL 463 in front of the iconic Opera House today. He wants to try and claw back some ground from his own conservative base – which has split over CSG mining.

In some ways, cancelling PEL 463 was an easy thing to do: communities would have prevented any CSG drilling across this vast PEL.

But the fact that the Baird government has not moved to protect the whole water catchment (providing drinking water to 5 million people) and has continued to allow CSG operations in Camden, the Pilliga and Gloucester means that the fight to protect those communities has to continue.

Both the Liberal and ALP state governments have failed to protect communities from this industry. It has only been thanks to the campaign by farmers, environmentalists and local communities across the country that this industry has been exposed to public scrutiny.

Socialist Alliance is proud to stand and struggle with those communities.

For a safe climate, we need to shift to zero emissions within the next decade. Investment in energy must be limited to technologies that can move us to a zero emissions economy, not commit us to new fossil fuels. Along with other fossil fuels, existing unconventional gas projects must be rapidly phased out, with workers guaranteed a just transition to alternative employment.

Socialist Alliance policy on coal seam gas:

The Socialist Alliance campaigns for:

  • A royal commission into the full impacts of unconventional gas.
  • An immediate moratorium on all unconventional gas exploration and production until the outcome of the royal commission and democratic decision about the future of existing projects.
  • A ban on hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) and similar stimulation techniques for unconventional gas mining.
  • No new gas.
  • Investment in energy must be limited to technologies that can move us to a zero emissions economy, not commit us to new fossil fuels.
  • Along with other fossil fuels, existing unconventional gas projects must be rapidly phased out, with workers guaranteed a just transition to alternative employment.