The newly-elected Industry Minister Ian MacFarlane is stepping in to fast-track coal seam gas project approvals in New South Wales in response to a perceived “gas crisis”.
Mr MacFarlane warned job loss and gas shortages could be possible if the Federal Government didn’t intervene on development processes in the NSW coal seam gas industry.
However NSW Resources Minister Chris Hartcher says he will not water down state policies keeping CSG exploration clear of residential areas and prime agricultural land.
“We’ve made it quite clear that New South Wales’ regulatory framework is here and here to stay,” he told ABC’s PM program.
Following the federal election earlier this month Mr MacFarlane told the national media he would like to fast-track CSG operations wherever possible, emphatically stating Australia should “use it or lose it”.
“We’ve got to make sure that every molecule of gas that can come out of the ground does so,” Mr MacFarlane said.
“Provided we’ve got the environmental approvals right, we should develop everything we can.”
However farmers and environmentalists remain worried any industry expansion would compromise prime agricultural land.
The NSW Opposition has put pressure on Premier Barry O’Farrell to ban CSG activity in water catchment areas, which would fly in the face of the federal Industry Minister’s wishes.