High dudgeon in shades of green

Hell hath no fury like a greenie denunciating an act of despoliation (or any remote facsimile of such an outrage). To recognise exceptional high dudgeon in the course of official duties, a Garrett (the greenies’ version of an Academy Award), is duly presented to Nigel Parratt of the Queensland Conservation Council.

The issue that got right up his nostrils was salt accumulation associated with coal seam gas extraction. While many in the Queensland government and the private sector are salivating at the prospects of this new fuel, some environmentalists are getting into a lather about the volume of salt that will be produced in the process. Similarly with the water in which the salt will be saturated. And, certainly, the sheer volumes of both are genuine causes for concern though the water should be a boon once the salt is removed.

But it is the nature of the green attack on the salt that arouses scepticism.

For example, Mr Parratt declaims the suggestion that the salt might be re-injected. ‘Burying it doesn’t deal with it, it just delays the problem’. Similarly, ‘ . . . will it remain inert or will it eventually be released into the environment?’

What strikes me as rather fanciful about such demagoguery is that the salt is in the ground already! It is already ‘buried’! It is part and parcel of the local, natural, environment. Concern about volumes is fine but let’s not ignore the fact that this salt is naturally occurring and is a natural product. Stockpiling should hardly be considered an outrageous environmental risk given the lining of landfills in urban areas already which have to meet the strictest environmental standards – and do so under regular inspection. Salt is hardly in the same category as nuclear waste.

If new sources of ‘friendly’ fuels are to be sourced within Australia there has to be reasonable debate about the pros and cons. Nonsensical grandstanding of this sort has no place in rational debate.