A new shale oil mine threatens the Great Barrier Reef
Formerly the chief scientist for the Australian Institute of
Marine Science, Dr. Veron joined divers from our ship the Esperanza
to highlight the combined threats to the reefs future coming from
coal fired power stations and shale oil exploitation: "By
mid-century, the corals of the Great Barrier Reef will have been
replaced by bacterial slime and the biodiversity we now see will
have been gone forever. We must never let this happen. We must
reduce CO2 emissions urgently."
The Esperanza was welcomed to the Whitsunday Islands,
Queensland, over the weekend, by more than 80 local vessels as it
arrived to join a community of thousands fighting a proposed shale
oil mine that threatens catastrophic impacts on the Reef.
The proposed mine is just 10 kilometres from the pristine Great
Barrier Reef, on the internationally significant Goorganga
Wetlands. If approved, the mine will consume vast amounts of water
while causing toxic leaching and air pollution from waste rock and
water. The Whitsunday region is one of the natural wonders of the
world and to consider setting up an industry as environmentally
destructive as shale oil here is lunacy.
Shale oil is one of the most environmentally damaging way of
getting fossil fuel out of the ground but it is also a major
climate changer. This one project would create up to 40 million
tonnes of greenhouse gases each year, which is equivalent to a
quarter of Queensland's annual emissions.
Yachts, kayaks, and boats of all shapes and sizes joined the
flotillaagainst the shale oil mine.
Despite the long standing mining businesses in Queensland, the
media has been generally supportive toward this campaign and locals
are sensing a shift in general attitudes towards the industry. In
the last week, the regional tourism association has come out in
support of the community against the shale oil mine.
This is a campaign we've fought before. The Stuart Shale Oil
project in Gladstone, Queensland was a small scale shale oil
processing plant. During its lifetime numerous chemical compounds
associated with cancer, lung and skin problems were released and
the air stank so badly making people feel like vomiting, while
buildings vibrated during the mine's trial processing runs. Between
1998 and 2004, Greenpeace and local communities fought the shale
oil industry in Australia, ultimately shutting it down. But, now it
While the Shale Oil development represents a very local threat
to the Reef and would contribute to global climate change, global
climate change itself, regardless of the source of emissions
threatens the reefs future. Queensland Premier, Anna Bligh would do
well to realise this, since she may oppose Shale oil mining in the
region, she plans to double Queensland's coal exports by 2030. But,
wherever coal is burned, growing CO2 emissions will cause
irreparable damage to the Great Barrier Reef.
The Rudd Government currently has no plans for long-term
solutions to end Australia's current reliance on oil, coal and road
transport. The establishment of a national shale oil industry would
be disastrous, not just for the environment and people, but for
other segments of the economy as well. The agriculture and tourism
industries are already threatened by the impacts of climate change.
The priceless Great Barrier Reef, creates more jobs than
Australia's entire coal industry and generates important tourism
dollars. It is already threatened by permanent coral bleaching as a
result of climate change.
The Esperanza is currently touring the east coast of Australia
to promote the use of renewable energy rather than dirty fossil
We want the government to keep its election promise to tackle
climate change. Rudd must kick start Australia's energy revolution.
Long-term planning and public investment in an efficient transport
system can tackle reliance on oil and vulnerability to rising oil
prices while also cutting greenhouse gas emissions. Investment in
renewable energy can see the coal industry phased out by 2030,
helping to protect the Great Barrier Reef.
Add your voice – sign the petition for renewable energy in Australia.
Our vision of a better future is only as strong as the people who support us. Join Greenpeace today and add your voice to the movement that's committed to defending our planet. Your support will make all the difference.