In a world facing climate crisis, worsening food security and increasingly little clean water, the coal seam gas industry is a step in the wrong direction, the Australian Greens said today.
The Federal Environment Minister, Tony Burke's approval of two major projects in Queensland yesterday has been celebrated by Premier Anna Bligh as 'the first day of a new industry' but mourned by farmers and environmentalists.
"The first day of a new industry which stands to destroy farming jobs, prime agricultural land and farming communities, risks poisoning aquifers and will contribute to worsening climate change is no cause for celebration," Australian Greens Deputy Leader, Senator Christine Milne, said.
"Nobody in Australia, least of all Minister Burke, can be unaware that we face a huge challenge to shift to a sustainable use of water in this country.
"Surely this is no time to be opening up a new industry that presents a very high risk of poisoning aquifers. We need to do everything we can to protect our precious water resources, not risk making them unusable to tap another source of climate-changing fossil fuel.
"Farmers and environmentalists have been working closely together in Queensland and NSW because we both understand that a future where we can feed ourselves is a future where we protect farming lands and protect water resources.
"Many farmers coming face to face with fossil fuel developments encroaching on their land also recognise the very real threat climate change poses to their livelihood.
"Professor Will Steffen, the scientific adviser to the multi-party climate committee, has warned that we are running out of time to prevent the climate crisis tipping out of control.
"This is no time to be opening up another polluting fossil fuel industry. It is time to be putting all our resources into the new, zero emissions renewable energy industries that are ready and able to start powering our country.
"I and my Greens colleagues will continue to work inside and outside the climate committee for ambitious policies that will transform Australia's economy from one focussed on polluting industries to one that protects the clean air, land and water that we need to survive.
"Coal seam gas represents short term corporate and government greed at the expense of future generations. It is a dead end industry."