Energy Sources

A Heated Debate on Energy, Environment, and the Path to a Sustainable Future

Main image to the post A Heated Debate on Energy, Environment, and the Path to a Sustainable Future

Mixed Reactions and Concerns

The Victorian government's approval of a new gas extraction project has sparked mixed reactions from locals. While some believe gas is still necessary during the transition to renewable energy, others argue that enough environmental damage has been done and urge the government to listen to its constituents.

The project, approved on Thursday, marks the first new application for gas extraction in the state in a decade. It comes after local community groups along the Great Ocean Road spent the summer campaigning against offshore gas projects in Victoria's southern sea country.

Beach Energy, the company behind the project, already operates the Otway Gas Plant near Port Campbell, a town known for its proximity to the Twelve Apostles Marine Sanctuary. Gunditjmara-Djab Wurrung woman Yaraan Couzens-Bundle, founder of the Southern Ocean Protection Embassy Collective, expressed concerns about the project's impact on the environment.

"Pygmy sperm whales are deep sea feeders. Now what's Beach [Energy] doing on the sea floor?" Ms Couzens-Bundle said. "Why isn't the Australian government protecting Australia's natural resources and environment from being exploited? Enough damage has been done."

Councillor Jamie Vogels, representing Corangamite Shire's Coastal Ward, acknowledged the mixed reactions but believes the project is necessary for the transition to renewables. "As you move towards a different technology you cannot just drop the old technology, you need to transition, and gas is going to play a big role for a long time," Cr Vogels said.

Matthew Smith, Director at oil and gas environmental consultancy company Klarite, emphasized the broader context of gas use beyond electricity generation. He highlighted its role in manufacturing essential products like feedstock, fertilizer, and powdered milk.

However, Louise Morris, oil and gas campaign manager for the Australian Marine Conservation Society, argued that the gas industry's own consumption is a major factor in the projected gas supply gap. "The biggest gas customer is the gas companies themselves," Ms Morris said. "If the gas companies reduced their use we wouldn't have the need to expand gas exploration or use at all."

Beach Energy CEO Brett Woods welcomed the project's approval, stating its alignment with the recently announced Future Gas Strategy. He emphasized the crucial role of gas in supporting Australia's transition and its importance for Victorian businesses and households.

The project also includes a native title agreement and a Cultural Heritage Management Plan. However, concerns about environmental impact and the need for a transition to renewable energy remain central to the debate surrounding this new gas extraction project in Victoria.

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May 21, 2023 | 05:09