As carbon pricing experts from the U.S. and Australia meet at U.C. Davis today to bolster international initiatives to cut greenhouse gas pollution, on the opposite side of the globe pro-development politicians are allowing unrestricted greenhouse gas emissions at a massive new liquid natural gas (LNG) facility in the remote Kimberley region of Northwestern Australia.If left unchallenged, the state of Western Australia’s greenlighting of more than 5 million tonnes of new carbon emissions per year for such a massive fossil fuel project could setback the progress of carbon reduction programs in Australia and around the world.
“Carbon pricing experts must prevent politicians from punting their way out of the carbon game and abandoning their duty to clean up dirty oil and gas projects,” said Teri Shore, Program Director at Turtle Island Restoration Network in California, who is attending the US-Australia Carbon Dialogue on Carbon Pricing on Tuesday, January 15, at the UC Davis Conference Center. TIRN opposes the Browse Basin LNG project due its GHG and other environmental impacts. “Climate leaders must find ways to align carbon policies in both nations and close loopholes that benefit carbon polluters.”
Western Australia’s environment minister wrongly decided that his state’s regulations were redundant in light of a new federal carbon tax opposed by conservative parties.
“It is a poignant case study of how a carbon price has actually lead to state de-regulation and inaction on climate change, within the setting of a pro-development conservative government,” said Jenita Enevoldsen, campaigner with The Wilderness Society of Western Australia in Perth (no connection to U.S. organization of the same name).
The controversial Browse Basin LNG facility planned near the tiny tourist town of Broome will emit about 5 million tonnes of carbon per year without restriction. Once built and operating, the Browse Basin LNG plant will escalate by 50 percent the total emissions of the state of Western Australia over 2007 levels. A final decision on the construction Browse Basin LNG facility now rests with the federal government of Australia.
The Browse Basin LNG project is opposed by conservation groups. It has been mired in controversy for years due to problems with Western Australia’s flawed environmental review process and illegal actions to acquire land owned by traditional Aboriginal Australian families. The project has faced lawsuits, blockades, media scrutiny and skepticism from oil industry analysts who say that alternative sites and technologies would be a better choice for such a massive project than the undeveloped Kimberley coast.
The Woodside-operated Browse Basin LNG joint venture underwent considerable restructuring over the course of 2012, with Japan’s MIMI paying $2 billion for a 14.7 percent stake, Shell taking over Chevron’s interest via an asset swap, and BHP Billiton selling its 10% to PetroChina for $1.63 billion. BP also holds a minority stake in the project.
The decision to give final environmental approval to the Browse Basin project ignore 240 appeals by individuals and conservation groups including Turtle Island Restoration Network, which highlighted the devastation the fossil fuel facility would cause to sea turtle nesting, feeding and migratory habitat. Read more about the issue at www.seaturtles.org under Australia’s Sea Turtles and the Kimberley.