Friends of the Earth (FoE) Melbourne is a non-for profit organisation working for a socially equitable and environmentally sustainable future. The international Friends of the Earth network is active in 77 countries with over 2 million members. Read more.
Yesterday the Victorian Liberal Nationals opposition announced a new plan to ‘Unlock Victoria’s Natural Gas Potential’ in a policy which would scrap the current moratorium on onshore conventional gas drilling in the state.
Despite pledging support for the Andrew’s Government’s ban on unconventional gas drilling (fracking), and a right of veto for farmers, the new policy contradicts the party’s previous support for the moratorium when it was enacted in 2014.
The Coalition enacted the moratorium while they were in power in large part because of the strong opposition from farmers in regional Victoria to any form of gas drilling operations on agricultural land.
Six years on and farmers have again called on both sides of politics to commit to an extension of the moratorium on onshore drilling. As part of a statewide weekend of action in February 2020, Dartmoor beef farmer Michael Greenham, also a spokesperson for No Gasfields Lower Glenelg, said the moratorium should stay in place.
"Our position is that we want to see the moratorium retained, we don't want to see onshore gas explorations in the south-west, mainly due to climate change," he said.
"The commercial benefit of gas extraction is a reality, but the value of the south-west's high rainfall and the agricultural production in our area is only going to increase. It's a greater commercial imperative to maintain that than threaten it with an alternative industry that is a short term industry.
"Gas is a dead-end street and a dead-end industry”
Friends of the Earth supports the farmers and community groups from Gippsland to Cape Bridgewater who are calling for an additional five year extension to the moratorium.
You can add your name to the call here
“The right of veto clause can be expected to internalise conflict in communities. What will happen when one person signs off on gas production and becomes the recipient of royalties – while all their neighbours inherit an industrialised landscape which has the potential to put at risk their livelihood, without any benefits?” Friends of the Earth’s Warrnambool-based representative Jemila Rushton said today.
The opposition claims that the provision of cheaper power for Victorians and low emissions are at the core of the announcement. Friends of the Earth’s Campaigns Coordinator Cam Walker describes the announcement as an ideological position, not sensible energy policy.
“Gas is not ‘sustainable’. It is a non renewable resource with a limited remaining lifespan – offshore production has peaked and is in decline. With scarcity will come higher prices, this means that over time gas prices will go up. A plan to encourage continued gas use will lock consumers into higher prices, rather than alleviate the financial burden of energy consumers.”
He continues, “the policy claims gas will provide baseload, however it is well known that gas is not used for baseload energy production. Gas is generally only used for ‘peak load’ moments like exceptionally hot summer days when huge demand is put on electricity supply. A forward thinking party would encourage ‘energy switching’ away from gas to cheaper renewable energy.”
The opposition policy has failed to address the climate impacts of gas production, including fugitive emissions. Methane emissions from the gas industry are identified as a major hurdle in global efforts to combat the climate crisis by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
The results of studies into the commercial viable onshore gas reserves in Victoria have yet to be made public. The opposition appears to have jumped the gun with this policy announcement, failing to review the results of the Victorian Gas Program due to be announced prior to June 30.
Friends of the Earth is aware that gas company AGL have estimated that even if the gas was removed and reserves were deemed viable to drill, it would take 7 – 10 years to prove up the gas resource, secure approvals, and start production. This means that even if cheaper gas can be found in western Victoria, it cannot be expected to reduce prices for Victorians in the short term.
Read more of our analysis of the gas market in Victoria here.
Send an email to the Premier calling for an extension to the moratorium.
Mutual Aid - Get Involved!
Following catastrophic fires in East Gippsland, an incredible network of mutual aid and support is developing to provide relief to impacted communities. A network of local landholders is also emerging to provide food, water and shelter to hungry and homeless wildlife.
Due to the overwhelming support flowing into this network from people who want to feed and help wildlife, Friends of the Earth is teaming up with local networks to strengthen the Food for Wildlife network.
Click here to get involved!
Want to kick off 2020 with a powerful message for climate action that can't be ignored?
Then join us for a human sign at the Monash University Clayton soccer pitch in the south-eastern suburbs of Melbourne! February 16.
Momentum is building at the community level for Victoria to lead on climate.
With PM Scott Morrison govt refusing to tackle the climate crisis, we need Premier Dan Andrews to show greater leadership.
The Victorian Labor govt will soon set Emissions Reduction Targets for the years 2025 and '30. It's the first time a state government will set short- and medium-term targets across the whole economy.https://www.melbournefoe.org.au/human_sign
In November 2019, the Andrews government announced a commitment to immediately end logging in remaining Old Growth forests, protecting around 90,000 hectares, with all logging in native forests across the state to stop by 2030.
The announcement includes the release of the Greater Glider Action Statement, which makes another 96,000 hectares of forest across Victoria immediately exempt from logging in order to protect this and other threatened species.
The government also announced a 30-year plan to support the timber sector as it transitions out of native forests. The government allocated $120 million to ensure the industry is fully supported in the transition.
With the overuse of native forests, 2030 was always too late to phase out logging. But now this summer’s fires have added an urgent dimension to the question of when native forest logging will end.
Fresh on the River Country team, this was my first road trip with the collective to learn what’s going on for communities along the Murray River. We reached Wadi Wadi country and the Nyah-Vinifera Park in the late afternoon, and set up camp by the river. River red gums lined the banks, their bare roots exposed by erosion, lead down to the water. The Murray was a beautiful sight, despite the damage it has faced over the years.
In late December 2019, the Federal government quietly announced that they are underwriting a new gas generator plant with APA Group, Dandenong (1), to be co-located with APA Group’s existing Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) storage facility at Greens Rd, Dandenong South. Some 18 gas-fueled engines are to be installed and 7 kilometres of gas pipelines laid to connect to the existing electricity network. (2) A similar 320 MW gas-fueled power station plant is in operation at Laverton North covering a land area of 32,726m squared, located 15 kilometres from the CBD.
From 2011 until 2017, the Victorian community, especially regional communities in the south of the state, campaigned hard to win the ban on frackingand the moratorium on onshore conventional gas drilling.
While fracking (unconventional gas drilling) was banned permanently, a moratorium was placed on onshore conventional exploration and drilling. This has been in force since 2014, and will expire on June 30, 2020.
In the next few months, the state government will decide whether to extend the moratorium or let it lapse. Over the past year, the Victorian Gas Programhas been investigating what onshore gas resources exist. Once the final report is released (likely to happen within the next 3 months), the government will make a decision about the future of the moratorium.