Federal Minister gets greater say over new CSG and coal mines
Updated 5 hours 49 minutes ago
The Senate has agreed to give the Commonwealth Environment Minister broader approval powers over coal seam gas projects and large coal mines.
The ‘Water Trigger’ amendment to the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act allows the Federal Environment Minister to consider the impact of CSG projects and large coal mines on water resources, in deciding whether or not to they should be approved.
It passed the Senate with the support of all parties, despite unsuccessful Opposition and Greens attempts to further amend the legislation.
The bill, championed by independent NSW MP Tony Windsor, passed the House of Representatives in March.
Mr Windsor says he’s delighted that the water trigger has become law, meaning the Commonwealth Environment Minister can now act on advice provided to him by the Independent Expert Scientific Committee, in deciding whether a project should go ahead.
Previously, the Minister could only consider the impact of CSG extraction and coal mining on water resources where a threatened species or Ramsar wetland was involved.
“CSG and coal mining projects can no longer be given the green light unless independent scientific advice concludes they won’t damage our precious water resources,” Mr Windsor said.
“Federal oversight based on independent science will help protect Australia’s most productive farmland from potential damage and encourage mining companies to pursue projects with lower risk profiles.”