In August last year residents of Tara and Kogan on Queensland’s western Darling Downs noticed small particles of black muck falling on their properties. Already convinced Origin Energy’s nearby Ironbark coal seam gas project was making them ill, some residents knew instinctively who to blame.
A Lock the Gate Alliance activist launched a petition on Change.org urging Origin to shut Ironbark until the “toxic black rain can be eliminated” or pay to move residents out of the area.
In fact, the black rain was naturally occurring waste from jumping plant lice or “lerps” that gorge on eucalyptus sap, an Origin-funded study found.
That hasn’t stopped 26,326 people signing the petition, which blames soil and water contamination, nausea, irritation and “lack of . . . energy” on “the mystery substance”.
In a March report – Fracking the Future: Busting Industry Myths about Coal Seam Gas – the Australia Institute set out to do just what its title says. But myths and unfounded claims are more often found on the side of the anti-coal seam gas activists.
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Ben Potter and John Kehoe, The Australian Financial Review, Monday 18 August 2014