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Whole Nine Yards: Albanese government fossil project tally rises to 9

by Zacharias Szumer | Jun 26, 2024 | Energy & Environment, Latest Posts

The Albanese government has now approved or extended at least nine fossil fuel projects and two carbon capture projects since taking office. Zacharias Szumer updates MWM’s tally with a freshly announced project. 

The Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water has approved the operation of 151 coal seam gas wells in Queensland. 

The approval of the Atlas Stage 3 Gas Project, published via the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Portal on Tuesday, grants Senex Energy a license to operate the project until 2080.

The expansion of Senex’s existing Atlas gas developments was first referred to the minister for environment and water in late 2022.

Around that time, Senex – which is controlled by Korean steel company Posco and partly owned by Gina Rinehart’s Hancock Prospecting – said it planned to increase its annual production to 60 petajoules (PJ) per year – more than 10 per cent of annual east coast gas demand. 

In the last few years, steel giant BlueScope, manufacturers Visy and Orora and energy retailer AGL have inked deals to buy gas produced by the Atlas gas expansion, on the presumption that it was granted approval. 

The full text of the approval grants Senex permission: 

To develop, operate, decommission and rehabilitate up to 151 coal seam gas wells and supporting infrastructure, including gas and water gathering systems, access tracks, brine and produced water storages, borrow pits, and ancillary supporting facilities, south-west of Wandoan, Queensland.

The approval also came with certain conditions, such as a ban on Senex clearing any Koala foraging and breeding habitat or releasing any CSG produced water to the surface water. 

In September last year, Michael West Media reported that the Albanese government had approved or extended eight fossil fuel projects and two carbon capture projects since taking office.

This list only counts extractive projects themselves, not supporting infrastructure such as gas pipelines. 

Research director at The Australia Institute Rod Campbell said, “More fossil fuel is the last thing the climate needs and more gas for a tax-shy billionaire-backed company is the last thing the Australian economy needs.”

“While all attention is on the LNP’s nuclear charade, Minister Plibersek is approving new fossil fuels. It’s appalling from a government that promised climate action.”

Bring our yer Dead! Amid nuke hype Tanya Plibersek approves Gina Rinehart’s gas pipeline

Zacharias Szumer is a freelance writer from Melbourne. In addition to Michael West Media, he has written for The Monthly, Overland, Jacobin, The Quietus, The South China Morning Post and other outlets.

He was also responsible for our War Power Reforms series.

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