Conservationists take legal action to stop $16 billion Scarborough gas project, citing damage to barrier reef | gas – Low Calorie Diets Tips

An environmental group has launched a legal bid to halt a $16 billion gas development in Western Australia, arguing the impact of its greenhouse gas emissions on the Great Barrier Reef will be significant and should be assessed under national environmental law.

Documents filed in federal court by the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) on Tuesday said Woodside’s Scarborough gas project would likely affect the world and natural heritage values ​​of the 2,300km-long reef system by contributing to mass coral bleaching.

Woodside requires final approval from the offshore energy regulator, the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (Nopsema), before development can proceed.

ACF said the project’s impact on the reef meant it should lose a statutory exemption from national environmental laws granted to projects evaluated by Nopsema and instead under the Environmental Protection and Biological Conservation Act by Federal Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek Diversity (EPBC) should fall.

The case is the latest in a growing list testing the approval of Australian fossil fuel developments based on their projected contribution to global warming.

Scarborough has become a rallying point for climate activists, citing a warning from scientists and the International Energy Agency that the world cannot afford new major fossil fuel projects if it is to avoid a worsening climate crisis. It involves the development of an undeveloped gas field 375 km off the Pilbara coast in Washington and pipeline connection to an expanded LNG processing facility near the city of Karratha. Most of the LNG would be exported and burned in Asia.

Climate Analytics researchers have estimated that gas from development could result in 1.37 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere over 25 years – more than three times Australia’s annual emissions.

Woodside and other supporters of the project, including WA Premier Mark McGowan and the new Federal Minister for Resources Madeleine King, have argued that gas from Scarborough would help lower global emissions by crowding out dirtier coal-fired power plants. They were asked for evidence to support and quantify this, but none was released.

ACF’s documents said Scarborough’s emissions would likely increase average global temperature by at least 0.000394°C, resulting in the death of millions of corals in any future mass bleaching event.

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The reef has suffered four massive coral bleaching events since 2016, and scientists say 99% of coral reefs are likely to be lost if average warming reaches 2°C above pre-industrial levels.

ACF executive director Kelly O’Shanassy said if the case were successful it would help establish the idea that all new fossil fuel developments should be screened for the climate damage they cause – a point , which is repeatedly put forward by environmentalists, but which is often not required under Australian law.

She said she expected any assessment to show that “new coal and gas are harmful to the environment”.

“Scarborough’s gas is a climate bomb about to detonate,” she said. “We must not fall for the accounting trick that says just because the gas is mostly burned overseas, these emissions will not affect reefs in Australia. The reef doesn’t care about the source of the greenhouse gases that damage it.”

Woodside said the Scarborough project has been “the subject of rigorous environmental reviews by a number of regulators” and will “vigorously defend its position”.

“The Scarborough project is underway and on schedule having received all primary environmental permits,” said the company’s chief executive, Meg O’Neill.

“The project will bring significant local and national benefits in the form of jobs, tax revenue and a reliable gas supply in the energy transition for decades to come.”

dr Selena Ward, a senior lecturer at the University of Queensland and director of the Heron Island Research Station on the reef, said a project of Scarborough’s magnitude would alter global temperatures and there was no point in it being exempt from national environmental legislation.

She said the Great Barrier Reef and other tropical reefs were already “suffering badly.” “If we want to keep them, we can’t afford to approve this type of project,” she said.

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