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

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

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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

5.5 Economic impacts

Economic impacts of CSG are difficult to estimate and have not yet been properly studied. Most of the evidence so far for economic impacts from CSG development is either anecdotal or based on economic modelling by mining companies.

 There are both positive and negative economic impacts associated with CSG development. Economic growth is considered an important part of modern society and CSG provides another resource that can further the economy.

Currently the emerging CSG industry in the Surat Basin, Queensland is estimated to be worth around $100 billion and can provide around 12,500 jobs for Australia (Advance Western Downs, 2010).

While this is in some respects a very positive impact, the direction of benefits from CSG development is not always towards the regions in which it operates.

Some of the major players in Australian CSG development are foreign owned such as Arrow Energy, QGC and ConocoPhillips meaning that many of those profits will not remain in Australia (Moran, 2012).

Furthermore many of the 12,500 jobs will be fly-in-fly-out qualified workers and not local people. In Moranbah, QLD, CSG development has seen huge influxes of temporary workers into small towns causing long term residents to sell their houses to mining companies who rent them to mine workers or knock them down and turn them into workers camps (Carlisle, 2012).

Median house prices have more than doubled and selling rates (Figure 7) in Moranbah have increased rapidly since CSG development began in the early 2000’s (Residential Tenancies Authority, 2012). This trend has forced Moranbah locals to move unable to handle the rising rent prices (Lagan, 2012).

Loss of long term residents means loss of the local workforce and this has forced many businesses to close down (Saggers, 2012).

Even Moranbah’s KFC has to shorten their opening hours and the general store shut down after losing 200 customers (Carlisle, 2012).

Figure 7. Median sale prices and number of sales in Morandbah, Queensland from 1997 to 2012 (Figure from Median rents quick finder, Residential Tenancies Authority, 2012) .

In other areas If using the theory of economic efficiency or pareto-optimality it is understood that in a market that reaches equilibrium it is impossible to make someone better off without making someone else worse off (Asafu-adjaye, 2005).

It seems that this theory may apply in CSG development where large economic profits are likely to be created to the detriment of local and regional economies.

5.6 Cumulative impacts

Cumulative impacts refer to the additional effects of impacts added to past, present and foreseeable impacts which are difficult and most often not assessed in Environmental Impact Assessments (Burris and Canter, 1997).

The NSW Government Inquiry (2012) into coal seam gas acknowledges the need for more research into the cumulative impacts of the relatively new CSG industry.

GeoScience Australia (2010) concludes that the perhaps most significant issue in CSG development is the uncertainty around possible cumulative, regional scale impacts.

Lack of data sharing by coal seam gas companies is a significant hindrance to the development of quality science and more accurate assessment of cumulative impacts (NSW Government, 2012).


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