Government’s gas-mania goes against global grain

The Australian Conservation Foundation is deeply concerned about three moves this week that could shackle Australia’s energy future to expensive, polluting gas.

This week:

  1. Resources Minister Keith Pitt has used a legislative instrument to allocate $50 million to a Beetaloo Cooperative Drilling Program to ‘encourage and facilitate accelerated gas exploration in the Beetaloo sub-basin’ in the Northern Territory.
  2. Media reports suggest the gas-fired power station the Morrison government wants built in the Hunter Valley could be built ‘off budget’ – even though new information shows it would operate only 2% of the time and employ just 10 full-time workers.
  3. The government has expanded the role of the Northern Australian Infrastructure Facility (NAIF), positioning the fund to facilitate a fossil fuel agenda in the north of the country.

“The government has made clear its intention to accelerate the exploitation of the Beetaloo Basin for gas extraction,” said Australian Conservation Foundation climate campaigner Suzanne Harter.

“The legislative instrument registered by Minister Pitt, which commences today, is the same mechanism used by Angus Taylor to fund the Collinsville coal-fired power station feasibility study and that Minister Taylor attempted to use to give money to the Vales Point coal plant.

“These three moves constitute a worrying trend that sees the government throwing millions of dollars at gas companies that can’t make projects stock up without taxpayers’ money.

“Let’s be clear: gas is made up mainly of methane, a highly potent climate pollutant that is many times more powerful than carbon dioxide at warming the atmosphere,”

Gaslighting Australia, a report released last year by ACF, showed the gas industry is already having a massive, unacceptable impact on our climate, with gas projects and industrial facilities that use gas emitting 81 million tonnes of climate pollution in 2018-19.

“Gas projects and gas-fired industrial facilities produced more than five times as much climate pollution in the last financial year as the old Liddell coal-fired power station did.

“While the Morrison government continues to shovel public money into the gas industry, the rest of the world is moving away from this polluting fuel.

“A United Nations report released last week found cutting methane – from gas, for example – is the strongest lever we have to slow climate change over the next 25 years.

“Gas is a polluting fossil fuel, which should have no place in our future energy grid.

“A responsible government would be moving to phase out gas-fired power to do our part in addressing the climate crisis – and to achieve net zero climate pollution as soon as possible.

“Australia has some of the best solar and wind resources in the world and is well-placed to transition to a fully renewable grid.”

350 Australia has tracked the government’s total gas spend for 2020-21 here.

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