Stumbling towards the worst of all worlds on gas

The inability of industry and governments at all levels to effectively address the community’s environmental concerns about coal seam gas, and political opposition to its development, are creating substantial economic risks in south-eastern Australia. A freeze on coal seam gas development would lead to higher gas prices and uncertain supply for industrial gas customers; put further pressure on manufacturing jobs and investment, especially in NSW, and reinvigorate coal as a source for future electricity generation, creating higher greenhouse gas emissions.

While a moratorium on coal seam gas extraction continues in Victoria, the NSW government has tentatively resumed issuing permits. Any development in NSW and Victoria needs to meet high hydrological and other environmental standards. But environmental issues should be determined on the basis of science, research and empirical evidence, not on political grounds.

Gas is a transition fuel to a low-carbon future. Gas emits half the carbon of coal when used to generate electricity. With the removal of the carbon price, coal-fired electricity generation will continue its dominance over natural gas in Australian east coast power generation. The gas will instead be liquefied for use by other countries as they substitute gas for coal, reducing their emissions.

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Craig Emerson and Greg Combet, The Australian Financial Review, Tuesday 2 September 2014



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