Massive community opposition to Asset Energy’s offshore oil and gas project

Media Release

Charlotte McCabe, Greens candidate for Newcastle

Write this in your diaries: Thursday the 7th of February, 5.30- 7.00pm, Newcastle City Hall. There will be a demonstration to coincide with the Federal Department of Industry, Innovation and Science’s community drop-in session about the regulation of offshore petroleum activities, including seismic surveys.

It is important that our community turns up to demonstrate the massive community opposition to Asset Energy’s offshore oil and gas project off our coast. If you’re someone who cares about marine life and our beautiful beaches, you need to be there with your friends.

There is nothing more iconic for Newcastle than our magnificent coastline.The idea of oil rigs on the horizon and the very real danger of industrial accidents like an oil spill or gas pipeline explosions is enough to shock us to our senses. How can this be happening?

The sudden interest in offshore gas is partly motivated by the gas crisis that’s been in the headlines lately. The only problem is that the crisis doesn’t exist. We are the largest gas exporters in the world. If we don’t have enough gas for our own population it is only due to the failure of our fossil fuel favouring energy policy. Not only do we allow mostly international companies to dig up our coal and suck up our gas without putting aside any national savings for the future in the way that Norway and Qatar does, we have also let gas companies lock in long term contracts with two thirds of our gas for prices that they have since realised were much too low. Now we pay more for our own gas than the people we sell it to. Despite this the parent company for Asset, MEC resources claims the project will “ improve energy security” in their recent ASX announcement about the promising signs for progressing the project. You can almost hear the investors licking their lips.

Another untruth is that gas is cleaner than coal. In fact gas is is 86 times more potent as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide over a 20 year period.  It is our gas emissions that bumped our pollution figures upwards at the end of last year, despite other sectors like agriculture putting in the hard yards and reducing their pollution. (SMH 28.9.18 ‘’Terrible’: Rising gas output lifts Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions)

Then there’s the myth that gas will create cheaper energy prices. According to the Climate Council’s report in 2017, investing in gas will increase power prices whereas investing in renewables will bring prices down. Why aren’t renewables the ‘fair dinkum’ power plan we are all working towards? Don’t we all want to transition to a clean energy future where we can continue to swim in clean beaches while we watch the whales swim back down south with their babies? Don’t we want to look future generations in the eye and tell them we did what was needed to reduce pollution?

To get to these underwater oil and gas deposits, the first step is seismic testing. This involves ear piercing blasts of air 24/7 for days on end which is known to kill, injure and disrupt marine life. Last year there were numerous protests in Newcastle about the April round of seismic testing and the project in general. Although the NSW resources minister Don Harwin opposed the project and wrote a letter to the Federal resources minister telling him so, and yet the project proceeds. This is not good governance.

If we are to reach our commitment to 1.5 degrees of warming which will mean a world more or less maintained as we know it, we can not afford to open up any new fossil fuel deposits. As we come into election fever with a state and federal election to be held in the first half of the year- it is critical that we elect the people who will take real action for our climate and our coasts. Winning this one will require a new state and federal government and a very active community demanding this project is stopped now.

Contact Charlotte McCabe 0421 728 780

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