In the past decade, the expansion of the coal seam gas (CSG) industry in Australia has been nothing short of momentous. In the Eastern states, where the growth has been concentrated, this progression has generated increasing social and environmental concerns. Uncertainty regarding the effect of coal seam gas extraction upon ground water aquifers, the full impact of hydro-fracturing, and how to effectively dispose of gallons of “associated” water without causing cross-contamination have all contributed to this. Additionally, land-holders in these areas have been subjected to what the New South Wales Senate Standing Committee has recently described as an “aggressive” assertion of mining rights. In particular, it has been established that in some cases, coal seam gas proponents have refused to consult or negotiate in any way with landholders, who in turn are deeply concerned about the impact that any such project may have upon their land and their livelihoods. In the long term, respect for ecological integrity is a global imperative that will have devastating social and environmental consequences if ignored. This respect is, however, difficult to achieve retrospectively. In determining how to best regulate the expansion of coal seam gas mining in Australia, political communities must make careful choices; they must be cognisant of the depth of responsibility that is owed towards citizens, nations and future generations.
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