Community perspectives of natural resource extraction: coal-seam gas mining and social identity in Eastern Australia

David Lloyd, Hannabeth Luke, Bill Boyd

Abstract


Using a recent case study of community reaction to proposed coal-seam gas mining in eastern Australia, we illustrate the role of community views in issues of natural resource use. Drawing on interviews, observations and workshops, the paper explores the anti-coal-seam gas social movement from its stages of infancy through to being a national debate linking community groups across and beyond Australia. Primary community concerns of inadequate community consultation translate into fears regarding potential impacts on farmland and cumulative impacts on aquifers and future water supply, and questions regarding economic, social and environmental benefits. Many of the community activists had not previously been involved in such social action. A recurring message from affected communities is concern around perceived insufficient research and legislation for such rapid industrial expansion. A common citizen demand is the cessation of the industry until there is better understanding of underground water system interconnectivity and the methane extraction and processing life cycle. Improved scientific knowledge of the industry and its potential impacts will, in the popular view, enable better comparison of power generation efficiency with coal and renewable energy sources and better comprehension of the industry as a transition energy industry. It will also enable elected representatives and policy makers to make more informed decisions while developing appropriate legislation to ensure a sustainable future.

Keywords


community engagement; natural resource extraction; coal-seam gas; sustainable energy source

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1344/co201310144-164

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