Federal member of Page Kevin Hogan has successfully moved two amendments to strengthen the national “water trigger” legislation regarding CSG.
The two amendments to the national environment law will ensure the protection of Australia’s water resources from coal seam gas and large coal mining developments, Mr Hogan said.
“I said in my maiden speech that I believe CSG was inappropriate for Page, and while this legislation is more national in nature, it will help to protect our local water supply,” Mr Hogan said.
The Coalition Government recently introduced a Bill that amends the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the EPBC Act) to establish a one-stop shop for environmental approvals.
Mr Hogan successfully attached his own two amendments to the bill that further strengthens the water trigger.
The first amendment makes it compulsory for all state governments to seek and consider independent advice from the Independent Expert Scientific Committee on Coal Seam Gas and Large Coal Mining Development (IESC) when assessing projects for the water trigger.
The second amendment ensures the Federal Government can request advice from the IESC, including the extent which a state government has considered the initial advice from the IESC.
Importantly, the Federal Environment Minister retains the right to “call in” the approval if they are not satisfied with the process.
Mr Hogan said he had carefully considered the government’s amendments in relation to the one-stop shop and the water trigger.
“I met with the Minister for Environment Greg Hunt to discuss the concerns that our community have in relation to coal seam gas development,” he said.
“I impressed upon him that it is of utmost importance that the community had confidence in the one-stop shop and the approval decisions made by the states and territories for coal seam gas and large coal mining projects.
“To make sure that states and territories maintain high environmental standards when making decisions relating to the water trigger, I introduced two amendments.
“The first amendment will make it mandatory for states and territories making approval decisions under bilateral agreements to seek and take into account the advice of the IESC.
“The second amendment gives the IESC an additional function and allows the federal Environment Minister to request its supplementary advice on high risk coal seam gas and large coal mining developments assessed under the one stop shop.”
“This could include advice on the extent to which the state or territory has assessed the impacts of the development and considered the initial advice of the IESC and will help the Commonwealth to monitor the operation of the one stop shop.”
The Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt told Parliament that Mr Hogan’s amendments would “bring additional comfort to rural communities.
“The Member of Page has been exceptionally active in raising concerns of his community,” Mr Hunt said. “We have worked together on the amendments which bring additional comfort to rural communities.”