Bill to establish CSG committee passes Australia's lower house

Legislation to establish a $200 million (Aus.) funded independent coal seam gas and coal mining expert committee has passed the lower house of the Australian Parliament.

The legislation allows for a more rigorous scientific assessment of CSG and large coal mining proposals. Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke says the committee would assess how proposals would affect underground water resources and rivers. He adds that there is community concern about the impact of CSG and coal mining developments.

An interim committee was set up in January this year pending formal establishment provided in the legislation. It will provide scientific advice and oversee research on the effects on water resources.

“Upon request the committee would provide evidence to inform regulatory decisions made by governments,” Burke said.

This will include advice on options for increasing the quality and accessibility of knowledge available of the impacts to water resources, such as the collection of data.

The committee’s work will be supported by a national partnership agreement with relevant State and Territory governments. To date, South Australia, New South Wales, and Queensland have signed the agreement and negotiations continue with Victoria and the Northern Territory.

The legislation will now move to the Federal parliament’s Upper House, the Senate.

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