News

The future of coal seam gas: a Sydney Law School conference



16 June 2011

On 17 June, the Australian Centre for Climate and Environmental Law at the Sydney Law School will host the conference Regulating Coal Seam Gas: implications for energy, food and water security.

Professor Rosemary Lyster: "The extraction of coal seam gas is raising concerns about water and food security in Australia."
Professor Rosemary Lyster: "The extraction of coal seam gas is raising concerns about water and food security in Australia."

The conference will look at how the extraction of coal seam gas is being regulated in NSW and Queensland, including the anticipated changes to the NSW Environmental Planning and Assessment framework following the recent change of government.

Professor Rosemary Lyster, Director of the Australian Centre for Climate and Environmental Law, explains that the background to the conference is the fact that Australia, like the United States, is making significant investments, with government support, in the extraction of shale gas and coal seam gas (CSG).

In opening the conference Professor Lyster will note that "various recent reports on global energy resources up to 2030 regard gas as contributing significantly to energy security, while also producing an energy source which creates half the greenhouse gases of coal.

"According to BP, oil will continue to suffer a long run decline, while gas gains steadily and, coal's recent gains in market share, following rapid industrialisation in China and India, will be reversed by 2030. The International Energy Agency has estimated a potential recovery of unconventional gas of 13,400 trillion cubic feet, with the US Energy Information Administration estimating the US's contribution at 2000 trillion cubic feet.

"Nevertheless the extraction of CSG is raising concerns about water and food security in Australia. This conference will use the perspective of Environmental Law, incorporating the concepts of risk and precaution, to assess the current regulatory environment," Professor Lyster said.

Professor Alan Randall, from the Faculty of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources at the University of Sydney, will give the keynote address.

His presentation Regulating coal seam gas: implications for energy, food and water security describes the potential impacts of CSG - including massive demands for water, contaminated waste water, disturbance and contamination of geosystems, atmospheric pollution, degradation of landscape aesthetics, and stress on infrastructure and sense of community. He will discuss how the regulation and management of these impacts is a major concern in the context of risk management, including his own proposed framework.

Other speakers include:

  • Nicola Franklin, Sydney Law School on Regulating coal seam gas: the NSW approach. In this presentation Nicola Franklin will discuss the announcement on 20 May 2011, by the new Liberal Government of NSW, of a 60-day freeze on the issue of new petroleum exploration and production licences. The government has also initiated its strategic regional land use policy to address concerns around land use conflicts, particularly between the coal mining and coal seam gas industries and agricultural industries. This comes among other announcements and initiatives heralding extensive reform of environmental planning laws. This presentation will ask how we, in NSW, got here and where we should be heading.
  • Brad Mullard, Executive Director, Mineral Resources on Coal seam gas: implications for energy security
  • Fiona Simson, Vice President, NSW Farmers Association on Food for the future: can farmers live with CSG?
  • Dr Nicola Durrant, Faculty of Law, Queensland University of Technology on Regulating coal seam gas: the Queensland approach


Event details

What:Regulating Coal Seam Gas: Implications for energy, food and water security

When: 2 to 5pm, Friday 17 June

Where: Foyer, New Law Building, Camperdown Campus. See map and directions.

Cost: $150 full fee, concessions available


To register or for more information, visit the Sydney Law School website.