Gippsland Climate News

Letter Published in the Gippsland Times 14.2.13

Dear Sir,

The proposals of the planned Esso plant to vent CO2 waste direct to the atmosphere – along with other proposals for the development of coal seam gas, shale oil and brown coal – are most alarming.

Recent comments by both Robert F. Kennedy Jnr. and James Hansen of NASA have implied that to embark on any proposal of this kind that exacerbates an already critical position of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is a criminal activity.

Late last year Steven Sherwood of the University of NSW stated “if we fully develop all the world’s coal, tar sands, shales and other fossil fuels we run a high risk of ending up in a few generations with a largely uninhabitable planet.” (New Scientist 17.11.12)

Unfortunately the mining giants, along with their bankers, insurers and political acolytes, seem hell bent on development regardless of all the warnings given by climate scientists.

At the very least these investments will eventually become stranded assets. It is likely the companies and their employees at some future date will face class actions in the courts similar to that faced by tobacco and asbestos companies today. And possibly they may someday appear in the same location facing charges of a criminal kind.


Peter Gardner

Letter Published Bairnsdale Advertiser 8.2.13

Dear Sir,

May I comment on your article about the appointment of former parliamentarian Alexander Downer to the Board of Lakes Oil? (B A 4/2) Mr. Downer is an appointment of Gina Rinehart – Australia’s richest person and the world’s richest woman. Ms Rinehart denies the science of climate change. Her other appointment to the Lakes Oil board is geologist Ian Plimer the principal Australian climate change denier.

Lakes Oil is a company exploring for coal seam gas, unconventional gas and shale oil in Gippsland. Recently Steven Sherwood of the University of NSW stated “if we fully develop all the world’s coal, tar sands, shales and other fossil fuels we run a high risk of ending up in a few generations with a largely uninhabitable planet.” (New Scientist 17.11.12)

We are in a ‘David and Goliath” struggle of epic proportions. The latter represented by a hugely wealthy mining industry with enough power to change prime ministers and with most of the mass media and the major political parties doing their bidding. The former represented by ordinary, mostly unaware, citizens – humanity itself.

Australia has a huge undeveloped resource of solar energy but persists with spoiling productive farmland and adding harmful greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. The proposals of Lakes Oil and other fossil fuel developers in Gippsland and elsewhere are insane.


Peter Gardner

PRESS RELEASE 8 February 2013

Longford Residents Against Gas

Longford residents last night voted unanimously against Onshore Gas in Longford. Two issues were discussed. One, the introduction of CSG in Longford and two, the Longford Conditioning plant approval process.

“So many people are concerned about what’s happening to our environment and communities are starting to stand up for their rights and protect their properties and their health.” Mr. Knoesen of the CSG Wellington Awareness Group said. “When you threaten to dig up peoples properties, surround them by gas wells, introduce heavy vehicle traffic, affect their health and well being and devalue their investments – they’re going to fight” said Longford resident Hayley Kennedy.

“With more and more people putting the yellow triangle ‘Lock the Gate’ signs up on their front gates, it is a clear indication that people are starting to understand the threat that mining poses to our region. Giving our properties and natural resources to overseas companies, Gina Rinehart and overseas companies is not on! It doesn’t matter who you work for- it’s wrong” said Dr. Jo McCubbin.

Several Exploration Licences for Onshore Gas Mining have been allocated by the Department of Primary Industries covering most of Gippsland. With investment by mining Giants like Gina Rinehart, and ExxonMobil(Esso) it indicates that there is potential for mass expansion of the industry in Victoria. We live over 65 Billion Tons of Coal between Morwell and Longford which contains vast quantities of gas- the Chinese want it, ExxonMobil want it and Gina Rinehart wants it. Gippsland produces 23% of Australia’s milk and is the food bowl for Victoria. This type of mining is proven in QLD, NSW and the U.S.A. to be incompatible with farming. Gippslanders will lose out. If Gippslanders don’t want to give away our agriculture industry, natural resources and real estate then they must say so.

Esso’s new conditioning plant is expected to vent 1 million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere each year and consume 72 million litres of aquifer water. Esso’s average water consumption is 973 million liters per year. “Gippslanders are in drought just after the floods, ask any farmer, and Esso is using 2.6 million litres per day?” commented Mr. Knoesen. To Longford residents, the expansion of the Longford Gas plant means that they will continue to live next door to an industrial facility and expect to have their environment polluted for many more years to come.

Gippslanders have an opportunity to object to the expansion of the gas plant by entering submissions to the EPA Works Approval Process of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Guidelines for submissions may be found at and a printed copy may be viewed at the Wellington Shire Council reception desk.

Longford residents who are concerned about the introduction of CSG in their neighbourhood and the expansion of the Esso processing plant are to contact to show their support to the community.

CSG WAG Sale, Victoria

Letter Published Bairnsdale Advertiser 25/1/13

Dear Sir,

I am pleased to see the Nationals coming out with a policy to have a “Green Army” of 15,000 across Australia even if it is only a token gesture.(EGN 16/1)  Such an “army” should be at least ten times this size and soak up unemployment around Australia.

As to activities for the “Green Army” I can suggest starting on Bob Hawke’s “one billion trees” as the only effective method of carbon capture and storage or making safe towns and communications routes from the increasing threats of extreme weather events or installing permanent members of emergency services such as the CFA in remote local communities. The list of possibilities is a long one.

The problem with the Nationals is that they are yet to recognise the dire threat of global warming. This is complicated by the fact that coal miners are a major donor to the National Party – more than $75,000 in 2010-11. Without tackling the problem of CO2 from coal exports and electricity generation the Nationals are condemned to remain the “flat-earth” party of our political system.

Eventually Mr Chester and the Nationals will have to decide whether they represent coal miners such as Nathan Tinkler or ordinary farmers and the people of Gippsland


Peter Gardner

New Esso Gas Plant in Gippsland

Letter to the Gippsland Times in response to an article on a new Esso gas plant (December 21, 2012)

The following points may be considered in the response:

1. Esso’s continued investment in the fossil fuel industry lengthens the time frame to achieving a lesser carbon future.

2. Esso’s investment in future fossil fuel projects indicates their lack of concern (with) current and proven science which indicates that our habitat and existence is under threat from human contributed atmospheric changes.

3. Esso’s continued investment in fossil fuels in Gippsland means continued environmental harm for our region based on a tragic environmental history in this area.

4. The subtlety of the reference to ‘natural gas’ in the article may be considered in the future as public consultation of plans to utilise the new facility as an onshore CSG/CBM/Shale/Tight Gas processing plant.

5. Reference ‘cleaner energy future, the life cycle of LNG is now speculated to be as bad if not worse than coal in the short term and current Australian technologies estimated to be a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions.

(Link to Southern Cross University Submission on National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting (Measurement) Determination by Drs. Santos and Maher)

6. The statement, ‘And because of the cleaner-burning qualities, natural gas is a powerful option for reducing the environmental impact of energy use.’ directly refers to onshore gas which Esso representatives regularly assure us is not a viable economic solution. The Australian White Paper indicates that there is an estimated 125 Metajoules of Gas in the Gippsland onshore reserves. Ignite Energy Resources estimate 35 Trillion Cubic Feet of gas (see Dr. Chris James submission) after exploration from 2007-2009. They want this gas and they want it now! And Esso wants to be there when it comes out.

7. The statement, ‘designed to treat natural gas with a different composition’, refers again to onshore gas or if it refers to offshore gas, no reference is made to the increased level of mercury and CO2 that is being extracted from the Kipper Tuna Turrum. The processing plant is a reactionary investment to deal with the mercury but not the CO2 which Esso representatives tell us is cheaper to vent to atmosphere and take the carbon tax hit than re-injecting it. So much for global warming solutions. Destroy the place now!

8. Ahhhh…. Mr. Ryan, always supporting a fossil fueled future, welcomes Esso’s 1 Billion dollar investment in destroying Gippsland!

9. Mr Ryan’s new plant will create 250 new jobs! Mr Ryan’s government has closed the Solar industry which employs 4800. Is it really employment that he is concerned about?

10. The Victorian Government’s investment of $56.9 Million in the Sale and Longford road system is a most timely infrastructure upgrade for the expansion of onshore LNG production and export to Asia through our newly upgraded $1.2b Port of Melbourne.

11. And to prevent this ‘plan’ being exposed and corrupt politicians being prosecuted, the ‘improved’ IBAC is most timely in it’s arrival. Pity Mr. O’Beid wasn’t in a “forward thinking” state like Victoria.

CSG Wellington Awareness Group, Sale, VICTORIA

Letters to The Age, December 2012

Letters to the Editor, The Age, Wednesday 7th December 2012 

Get ready for the double whammy

As we settle in for the bumpy ride towards planetary disaster, we are bombarded by promotions for mining more coal and gas. We may kid ourselves that we are getting cleverer and can do it more cleanly. But can we really?

Onshore (unconventional) gas is spruiked as the new clean, green energy for the future. Spooked by bad press, companies are push-polling householders into agreeing that coal seam gas is OK so long as strict environmental standards are maintained. No doubt companies will use that to convince governments that we,the electors, are mad for gas. Expect a few other blandishments like funding for hospitals to seal the deal.

Meanwhile, we have just a few years to seriously limit emissions. And the only way is to stop burning the stuff and start being clever. The tax dollars going into the coffers of the fossil industries by way of subsidies should be going to education instead.

As well as better energy technologies, we are going to need to train vast numbers of health workers to cope with the double whammy of increased pollution and an increasingly hot and dangerous planet.

Jo McCubbin, Sale

It was once common for children to ask, ‘‘What did you do in the war, grandad?’’ The next generation will ask us, ‘‘Grandpa, Grandma, what did you do to fight climate change?’’

With the latest release of climate data and talk by scientists that we need to adopt a war footing to fight global warming, it is a question we all need to face up to. While many of us will be able to answer that we recycled, installed solar panels, bought green power, reduced consumption and campaigned for sensible climate policy, Ted Baillieu, Peter Ryan, Michael O’Brien and Matthew Guy will have to say ‘‘Well, kids, we fought for the other side. We slowed the roll-out of solar panels, we stopped the wind farms, and we allocated 13 billion tonnes of dirty brown coal for export which, when burnt, produced 40 billion tonnes of greenhouse gases.’’

Dan Caffrey, Traralgon

Letter to The Age, October 2011

The following is an unpublished letter written to the editor of The Age on October 22, 2011.

Dear Sir,

Thanks for Paddy Manning’s article (Saturday Age 22/10 ) highlighting the problem caused by our coal exports and our efforts to try to curb our carbon dioxide emissions which does not appear to covered by the current legislation before the Senate.

As many commentators have pointed out climate change will not be mitigated without severe restrictions on the burning of coal and eventually its complete replacement with other energy sources.

Manning’s solution – a price on carbon at the point of extraction – is similar to the ‘fee and dividend’ proposal of James Hansen. The coal miners pay a ‘fee’ (equivalent to the ‘carbon tax’?) at the mine and the revenue collected is distributed to all citizens as a dividend.

Similarly products entering Australia with unfair advantage due to their country of origins having no financial mechanism to price carbon should be charged a similar ‘fee’ or ‘tariff’.

Perhaps the legislation before the upper house can be amended to cover this or it can be covered in a following piece of legislation.

Peter Gardner
Global Warming Action Party (Australia)
Ensay, Victoria