By Brian Tessmann, QDO President
The State Government ban on the Underground Coal Gasification process has been welcomed by farmers, landholders and environmental groups around the state. The final straw for UCG was the widespread contamination around the Linc Energy plant near Chinchilla on the Western Downs.
While QDO welcomes the move and commends Minister Lynham, it is years overdue when you consider overseas experience in places like Wyoming. This technology should never had been trailed in Queensland at all. Out of the three trials undertaken in Queensland the first to get into difficulty was the Cougar Energy plant near Kingaroy. Cougar Energy is the same group hoping to shortly commence an open cut mine operation just south of Kingaroy. Over 900 people recently voted against this mine at a town Hall meeting recently organised by the Kingaroy Concerned Citizens Group (KCCG).
Compare this however to when Cougar Energy started building their UCG plant during the Beatty Labor Government when most South Burnett people were in favour. Interestingly a quick Google search would have revealed UCG’s disasterous environmental record in the US. Still when KCCG members went to the EPA minister the head bureaucrats had little knowledge of it and seemed dismissive of contamination risk concerns. Of course their view has now changed but the Government had an obligation to check thoroughly at the time. The people around Kingaroy should thank the KCCG for highlighting issues to ensure the plant was closed at the first detection of contamination.
The government employees who allowed these projects to start have since only moved upward in the public service with some now even heading departments. The politicians who gave the tick of approval have since moved on. In the case of Linc Energy, the community has been left ponder their future and the tax payers left tofoot a huge clean-up bill. It is obvious as to who got the raw end of the deal.