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An overview of possible impacts from coal seam gas development in Northern Rivers, New South Wales
by Elfian Schieren, 2012

Contents
1. Introduction
2. Energy and coal seam gas development
2.1 Economic viability underpinning coal seam gas development
2.2 Renewable, sustainable energy development
- Solar
- Wind
- Biogas
2.3 Coal seam gas development at a global scale
2.4 Coal seam gas development in Australia
3 Coal seam gas extraction process
- Drilling and dewatering
- Hydraulic Fracturing
- Produced Water
4 Risks to water resources from coal seam gas development
4.4 Ground water use
4.5 Water produced by coal seam gas
4.6 Contamination of Groundwater
5 Other Consequences of coal seam gas development
5.4 Impacts to agricultural production
5.5 Health impacts on humans and animals
5.6 Impacts on greenhouse gas emissions
5.7 Impacts on seismic activity
5.8 Economic impacts
5.9 Cumulative impacts
6 Potential for coal seam gas development in Northern Rivers, New South Wales
6.1 Northern Rivers Region
6.2 Using trade-offs and opportunity costs in evaluating CSG development
6.3 Prospects for development in Northern Rivers region
6.4 Energy development in Northern Rivers region
6.5 Northern Rivers community actions and groups in response to CSG development
7 Discussion
8 Conclusion
9 References

PDF file
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Thomas Davey, Tourism Advancing Gloucester

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New South Wales Farmers Associations Dairy Committee

Bruce Robertson,
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Steven Robinson, Psychiatrist

Barrington-Gloucester-Stroud Preservation Alliance

Manning Alliance

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2011 Gloucester AGL Blockade

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An overview of possible impacts from coal seam gas development in Northern Rivers, New South Wales

Integrated Project by Elfian Schieren, 2012

Abstract
Australia is a fragile continent in need of economically and environmentally sustainable development.

Australia is a large energy producer and has recently undergone a massive expansion of the coal seam gas (CSG) industry in QLD and NSW in response to global market prices and energy demand.

This report aims to provide a preliminary appraisal of the ability for CSG development to contribute to sustainable development in Northern Rivers, NSW where considerable investment into CSG is planned.

The report identifies a multitude of uncertainties regarding impacts from CSG and a lack of sound science underpinning most predictions. Of particular concern are impacts to water, health, emissions and long term economic functioning especially at the regional scale.

With regard to the potential range and scale of the various impacts it is considered imperative to improve the scientific database of CSG impacts. Cumulative impacts are considered an essential component of future research due to the likelihood of them occurring.

Sound science underpins good management and when the consequences are considered potentially “disastrous” precautions should be taken to ensure that development has a solid scientific basis.

The report concludes that CSG might best be developed in areas of low environmental, social and economic value to reduce extraction costs and possible trade-offs between other long term industries.

Contents
1. Introduction
2. Energy and coal seam gas development

2.1 Economic viability underpinning coal seam gas development
2.2 Renewable, sustainable energy development
- Solar
- Wind
- Biogas
2.3 Coal seam gas development at a global scale
2.4 Coal seam gas development in Australia
3 Coal seam gas extraction process
- Drilling and dewatering
- Hydraulic Fracturing
- Produced Water
4 Risks to water resources from coal seam gas development
4.4 Ground water use
4.5 Water produced by coal seam gas
4.6 Contamination of Groundwater
5 Other Consequences of coal seam gas development
5.4 Impacts to agricultural production
5.5 Health impacts on humans and animals
5.6 Impacts on greenhouse gas emissions
5.7 Impacts on seismic activity
5.8 Economic impacts
5.9 Cumulative impacts
6 Potential for coal seam gas development in Northern Rivers, New South Wales
6.1 Northern Rivers Region
6.2 Using trade-offs and opportunity costs in evaluating CSG development
6.3 Prospects for development in Northern Rivers region
6.4 Energy development in Northern Rivers region
6.5 Northern Rivers community actions and groups in response to CSG development
7 Discussion
8 Conclusion


Photo: Elfian Schieren, 2012
School of Environment Science, Engineering and Management, Southern Cross University


Abbreviations:

CSG – Coal Seam Gas
GHG – Greenhouse gas
NSW – New South Wales
QLD – Queensland

Key Terms:

Coal seam gas – methane extracted from coal seam geology via drilling, dewatering and fraccing
CSG development – any area undergoing CSG ecploration or production or building of CSG infrastructure such as pipelines
Energy – production of electricity for commercial and domestic purposes including sale/export of energy in resource form
Green house gas – gases emitted by fossil fuel burning that increase the concentration of gases causing climate change in the atmosphere
Ground water – water found in subterranean aquifers
Ground water contamination – contamination of ground water resources from chemicals, organic compounds and heavy metals
Produced water – water produced through coal seam gas extraction processes containing drilling or fraccing fluid substances or compounds mobilized from the coal seam
Renewable energy – naturally occurring, theoretically inexhaustible source of energy that is not from fossil fuel

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