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‘A blank cheque’– 47,000 SQ KM of marine environment earmarked for fossil fuel expansion

The Conservation Council of WA (CCWA) has criticised a decision by the Federal Resources Minister, Madeleine King, which will grant an extra 47,000 square kilometres of Commonwealth waters for oil and gas exploration.

The federal government announced ten new sites which includes the controversial Browse Basin of the North West coast of WA.

In a video message to the NT Resources Week Conference in Darwin, yesterday, Ms King said that the announcement would ‘support ongoing investment in the nation’s petroleum sector, which is vital for the economy and meeting the energy needs of Australians’.

Those words were given short shrift by CCWA’s Executive Director, Maggie Wood, who took particular issue with the Minister’s claims that the 2022 Offshore Petroleum Exploration Acreage Release would provide ‘energy security’.

“The government has made a decision which will only serve to make our biggest polluters richer while making our environment and climate immeasurably poorer”, she said.

“An additional 47,000 square kilometres of room for fossil fuel expansion – which includes the highly controversial Browse Basin – is a blank cheque for companies like Woodside to continue churning out gas for decades to come, pushing us all further towards irreversible damage to our climate.

“The suggestion that this announcement has anything to do with ‘energy security’ is disingenuous. As the energy crisis in the eastern states has proven, gas giants have no interest in energy security for Australia. They are entirely pre-occupied with selling their highly polluting product on the international market for the highest possible profit.

“True energy security will only come from an immediate transition to large scale renewable energy generation.”

The minister’s announcement coincided with the granting of new ‘greenhouse gas storage permits’ to fossil fuel giants Woodside and Inpex.

The permits will allow the companies to pursue new ‘carbon capture and storage’ (CCS) projects, offshore.

“Carbon capture and storage does not work, as has been proven time and again by several high profile failures of CCS technology – most recently at Chevron’s Gorgon CCS plant in WA”, said Maggie Wood.

“Fossil fuel companies know that CCS doesn’t work, but use it as a smokescreen behind which they can continue to expand their highly polluting business operations.

“More concerning, however, is that the federal government is seemingly ignorant to CCS’ failings and is willing to throw billions of dollars at it through subsidies to the fossil fuel industry.

“Ringfencing thousands of acres of our marine environment as a store for carbon pollution is every bit as wrongheaded and dangerous as it sounds and this plan will now become a huge liability for the Australian taxpayer.

“It’s hard to believe that this announcement is coming from the same Labor government which was swept to power on a wave of popular support for greater action on climate change.”


MEDIA INFORMATION: The Conservation Council of WA (CCWA) is the state’s foremost non-profit, non-government conservation organisation representing more than 100 environmental organisations across Western Australia. 

For more information, visit:

CONTACT: For any enquiries relating to this release, please contact Robert Davies

08 9420 7291 / 0412 272 570 or by email, [email protected] 

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