By Michael Giles
ONCE and for all, the Andrew’s state government needs to rule in, or rule out whether we have commercial, onshore gas supplies below our feet here in Bass Coast or South Gippsland.
This is not a NIMBY debate.
Many people remain concerned about the impact on groundwater supplies and the environment of exploration and production of onshore gas, especially where it involves fracking to break up rock or coal strata to release the resource.
Victoria still has a moratorium on onshore gas exploration and production and an indefinite ban on fracking, but a debate has been kick-started by the Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
He said in a speech at the National Press Club recently that increasing Australia’s domestic gas supplies could help lower greenhouse gas emissions.
Principally this new gas could be used to back-up energy from renewables when output from wind or solar is impacted.
“Central to this agenda (a cleaner energy future) is getting access to our domestic gas supplies,” said Mr Morrison
“We need to get the gas from under our feet.
“There is no credible energy transition plan for an economy like Australia in particular, that does not involve the greater use of gas as an important transition fuel.”
Referring to the moratoriums on onshore gas exploration in Victoria and New South Wales, he said the US was proof opening up gas resources could reduce emissions.
“Gas has a critical role to play as a backstop to our record investment in renewable energy generation,” he said.
“So right now, we’ve got to get the gas.”
The mining and exploration industry has embraced these sentiments.
So, do we have another fight on our hands or is it time to consider the role of onshore gas in a responsible, national energy plan that includes consideration of nuclear?
Victoria has, apparently, already reached its limit where the development of renewables is concerned, based on the availability of back-up power.
Should we allow the state government to keep putting its head in the sand while a power crisis is looming?