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Show us your social licence

By Richard Stanton - posted Friday, 9 August 2013


Well, despite every warning, the out-of-control coal seam gas juggernaut rolls on - Alan Jones Radio 2UE August 1

When Australia's conservative radio talkback king Alan Jones stated recently that gas companies do not have a social license to explore for or pump coal seam gas he couldn't have been more right.

Coal seam gas is the methamphetamine of the energy world; It is easy to get hold of, relatively cheap and makes users want more. But it also scares the crap out of a lot of people.

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Like the psychostimulant crystal meth, or ice, coal seam gas, which has been given the demonising initialism CSG, has two values. In low doses it increases energy. In high doses it has the potential to destroy communities.

Coal seam gas and ice are both popular topics. And both suffer at the hands of vocal activists with close attachments to media and other demonising vehicles. But there is one big difference. CSG is legal.

The legality or legislative right of gas companies to do business - to explore for and extract gas from coal seams and other deep underground spaces - has not stopped those who are opposed to the activity from crusading against it on emotional 'social' grounds.

So vehement is the opposition in Australia that one commentator close to the action remarked that the window of opportunity for CSG to become a socially acceptable cheap energy source is closing very quickly.

Oppositional activists are hell bent on stopping forever the exploration for and extraction of CSG in Australia.

Disparate groups have joined forces. Mr Jones is not alone in his demonisation of CSG. He has sided with groups he would normally attack. Additionally, farmers and greenies have gone to bed together on this one. Who would have thought it possible?

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Coal seam gas has ignited passions against it that even the most prescient of energy explorers could not have foreseen.

It is however a legal activity that has legislative approval in the two key states in which the methane is located – Queensland and New South Wales.

Legislative approval gives the operating companies license to explore, drill and pump. They have obtained license through the scrupulous submission of evidence put to the state governments of Barry O'Farrell and Campbell Newman.

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Richard Stanton's latest book, Scorched Earth: The Deep Rupturing of Australian Society And its Failure to Meet the 21st Century is published as an e-book by verandahpress.com



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About the Author

Richard Stanton is a political communication writer and media critic. His most recent book is Do What They Like: The Media In The Australian Election Campaign 2010.

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Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

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