Some of the world’s largest energy giants are moving into eastern Australia and investing billions of dollars to exploit coal seam gas reserves so vast they could rewrite the world’s energy map.
Despite generating massive amounts of revenue and creating thousands of new jobs, they are being met by a groundswell of public protest and a rising chorus of concern about the long-term impacts of coal seam gas extraction on the nation’s health, environment and land.
A few years ago hardly anyone in Australia had even heard of coal seam gas, now the industry finds itself under intense public scrutiny as it plans to drill thousands of new gas wells a year – many of them under farms and rural communities in the middle of the nation’s agricultural heartland.
As Australian farmers face the prospect of being forced by law to allow energy companies to drill for gas on their land, property owners and greenies are uniting in a grassroots protest movement to fight what some people are calling ‘the greatest environmental battle in Australia’s history’.
Coal seam gas could make Australia an energy superpower, but at what price to the nation’s health, environment and land?