The NSW government’s move to rename coal seam gas to "natural gas from coal seams" has come under fire from Stop CSG Illawarra.
The Illawarra Mercury reports the group has compared the move to a Monty Python skit and labelled it “ridiculous”.
The group’s spokeswoman Jess Moore said the change in terminology reveals the government’s real intentions.
“The NSW government knows CSG drilling is so unpopular with the community,” she said.
“But rather than do what the community is calling for, by banning CSG mining, it is just changing the words, it’s ridiculous.”
Moore said the term “natural gas” will further confuse people about CSG mining.
“I think the government knows that people generally consider the world ‘natural’ to be positive so they’re trying to tap into that but we know lots of natural things can be bad for us,” she said.
“Our role now is to keep cutting through the government’s attempts to bamboozle people and make it clear they are just changing the name.”
The NSW government has been recommended by the federal Standing Council on Energy and Resources to change the term coal seam gas and its acronym CSG to natural gas from coal seams in official documents across the state and perhaps across Australia.
The council compiled a briefing note for NSW energy and resources minister Chris Hartcher and said the terms “coal seam gas” and “CSG” should be removed as much as possible from marketing content, replies to letters and from sentences on websites.
Stop CSG Illawarra also said the leaked document asks different government bodies to use the new term, including the chief scientist.
“That reference just shows how deep this goes,” Moore said.
“The chief scientist is supposed to be independent and now the state government is trying to tell her what words she can use.”
But Hartcher’s spokeswoman said the Land and Water Commissioner and the Office of the Chief Scientist can use any terminology they want as they are independent groups.
NSW Parliament will begin discussing the issue of CSG drilling in the state’s drinking water catchment next month.
Moore said Stop CSG is anticipating seeing a bill early next year proposed by Labor that forbids catchment drilling.
Coal seam gas is a contentious issue in many parts of the country, with anti-CSG campaigners contending there is insufficient scientific proof the practice will not impact water tables, the environment and the health of those living around wells.