NSW declares no go zones for CSG. Victorian government should do the same.

February 19, 2013

Friends of the Earth Media release.

In a significant shift in policy, the NSW government has bowed to community pressure and announced the creation of No Go Zones for coal seam gas (CSG) operations for urban areas and ‘industry clusters’ like vineyards. Large sections of the state remain threatened by CSG operations.

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Planning Minister Intervenes In Golf Course Saga

FEBRUARY 11 2013

PRESS RELEASE

Friends of the Earth today expressed its disappointment at the actions of Planning Minister Matthew Guy in amending the Yarra Ranges Planning Scheme in order to facilitate the construction of Eastern Golf Club's new course at Yering Gorge, one kilometre upstream from the offtake to Sugarloaf Reservoir.

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Mining magnate Gina Rinehart buys into Victorian coal and gas exploration

Local mining company Lakes Oil has long been trying – without success - to commercialise oil and gas operations in both Western Victoria and Gippsland.

“Today's announcement that Gina Rinehart’s company Hancock Prospecting has invested in Lakes Oil through a convertible notes issue must concern everyone who is worried about the prospect of an on-shore gas industry in the state” said Friends of the Earth campaigns co-ordinator Cam Walker.

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Concerns raised over MDBA decision to increase groundwater limits

The Murray Darling Basin Authority is charged with regulating groundwater acquifers as well as surface water. But in new leaks it appears they are looking to more than double extraction - "That's a huge amount of water to be pumping out of these aquifers, with untold risks for the future of those aquifers and also for potential pollution of surface water streams." says Friends of the Earth Murray-Darling Campaigner, Jonathon La Nauze.

It's also a radical revisal that has no basis in science and potentially opens the door for Coal Seam Gas and other mining in the Basin to large amounts of water.

Read the full story here or listen to the audio.

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Quality drinking water for 3.4 million Australians only an “aspiration"

Last Thursday Friends of the Earth attended a pre-briefing on the soon-to-be-released Proposed Basin Plan. Amongst many disappointments in the document was this shocking bit of back-pedaling: water quality and salinity targets, critical to ensuring the waters of the Murray-Darling are safe to swim and drink, will now be merely “aspirational.”

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Murray-Darling Rivers doomed by Authority's plan

The Barmah-Millewa Collective joined more than a dozen peak environmental groups recently for a special briefing by the Murray-Darling Basin Authority. What we heard was what we were expecting from the recent leaks about the draft Basin Plan. The Authority has bowed to pressure by the irrigation lobby and is planning on returning a measly 2800 gigalitres of water to the environment. This is roughly half of what the best available scientific modelling has consistently shown is needed to restore the rivers to health.

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Scientific Review Commissioned... But Flawed

This year there has been a lot of controversy surrounding the Murray-Darling Basin Authority’s (MDBA) scientific modeling, culminating with a walk-out by the Wentworth Group in May. Environmental groups including Friends of the Earth have been demanding an independent peer review of the Basin Plan’s methodology and results for months (http://melbourne.foe.org.au/?q=bmc/news/23May11), so the MDBA finally commissioned an independent body to form a report on the Basin Plan, which will be released at the end of September.

However, this review can only investigate and report according to very specific and limiting terms of reference; it will not question critical assumptions made that underpin the scientific modeling. For example, only 18 out of 2442 key ecological sites have been used to indicate the health and water needs of the whole system – a risky assumption which needs to be properly examined, but is not being questioned by the CSIRO. Fundamentally, we doubt whether the review will answer the key question of whether the MDBA has used the best available science, as required by the Water Act 2007. We will continue to call on the MDBA to pay heed to the large body of existing scientific work which shows thatanything less than 4,000GL of environmental flows will not save the river.

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