Begin at the beginning

Hello blog reader!

Welcome to my new blog, What’s so bad about gas?! Coal seam gas has copped a lot of flack in the press recently, being blamed for serious environmental and human health impacts, but I’m having trouble distinguishing the science from the hysteria. Through a series of blog posts, I hope to discover, for myself, what exactly is so bad about gas.

I first heard of coal seam gas (CSG) about 5 years ago when I was an environmental engineering undergrad. At the time, I thought the process was unremarkable and fairly practical. It certainly didn’t’ raise any ‘environmental disaster’ red flags in my brain. In fact, I didn’t think much more about CSG until the release of Gasland last year.

Gasland is a documentary based on the director’s own experience with coal seam gas (he was offered US$100,000 for the gas rights to his property). The director (Josh Fox) uses this as a launching pad to explore the CSG industry – what is the CSG extraction process and what impact does it have on human and environmental health. Thanks to some pretty memorable footage, this low-budget documentary was a raging success and helped to kick-start (or at least crystallize) the backlash against CSG here in Queensland.

I attended the premiere of Gasland in Brisbane which included a Q&A session with Josh Fox and environmental activist, Drew Hutton. In general, I found myself  moved by the stories of environmental destruction and human impacts but I couldn’t help but wonder: where is the science? In particular, there were multiple claims of CSG infiltrating drinking water but no real explanation of how it got there. I’m a scientist and engineer – I need to know the ‘how’!

Throughout this blog, I intend to use Gasland to frame my questioning – are claims made in the film correct, what was the industry response to the film and what did it mean for the CSG industry (and anti-CSG campaigners) here in Queensland.

Next up: what is coal seam gas?

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