The Importance of the Federal Coal Seam Gas Water Trigger
Australian Environment Review, Vol. 28, No. 6, 2013
5 Pages Posted: 1 Oct 2015
Date Written: 2013
In March 2013, the federal government introduced the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Amendment Bill 2013 (Cth) in accordance with its constitutional power to regulate constitutional corporations and trade and commerce. The proposed amendment followed on from the independent review of the EPBC Act. The Bill was passed on 19 June 2013 and introduced an additional matter of national environmental significance in the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cth) (EPBC Act) where either a large coal mining project or a coal seam gas (CSG) project has a significant impact on a water resource.
The amendment represents an important reform for a variety of reasons. First and foremost, it gives CSG projects a national environmental focus that inexorably adds a further political dimension to the controversial expansion of the CSG industry in Australia. Further, the amendment provides specific protection to Australian water resources in circumstances where the impact of CSG and large coal mining can be characterised as significant. Finally, the amendment addresses one of the longstanding deficiencies of the EPBC Act: the absence of a specific water resource trigger.
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