The NSW government has been recommended to remove the term “coal seam gas” and its acronym CSG from official documents in the state and perhaps across Australia.
The recommendation came from the federal Standing Council on Energy and Resources, which is comprised of ministers from each state and territory and the commonwealth, the SMH reported.
The council compiled a briefing note for NSW energy and resources minister Chris Hartcher, and says the terminology should be changed to “natural gas from coal seams”.
The note says the terminologies “coal seam gas” and “CSG” should be eliminated as much as possible from marketing content, replies to letters and from sentences on websites.
It says “natural gas from coal seams” should be utilised in internal briefing notes.
The note said the terminology change aims to “improve clarity and consistency of the terms used to describe coal seam gas in departmental correspondence, communication and content”.
Chief scientist and engineer Professor Mary O’Kane said misinformation is exacerbating anxiety over CSG.
She said there are wide-ranging community concerns about CSG and recommends stricter regulation, more penalties for violations and more environmental research be conducted.
The council issued a National Harmonised Regulatory Framework for Natural Gas from Coal Seams, which aims to make sure “regulatory regimes are robust, consistent and transparent across all Australian jurisdictions”.
“This is part of a national harmonisation initiative adopted by all governments,” the NSW briefing note said.
Coal seam gas has been a contentious issue in many parts of Australia and the subject of debate across the country.
Anti-CSG protesters contend there is not enough scientific evidence the practice is safe and will not destroy water tables, the environment and the health of residents living around wells.
Queensland has seen $60 billion worth of investment pumped into projects and created around 10,000 jobs in the past year.
But Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham criticised the government for playing “cynical public relations games”.
“Government adoption of the industry’s Orwellian terminology will not diminish legitimate concern and the real risk posed to land and water by coal seam gas,” he said.
But the terms CSG and coal seam gas are allowed on social media to follow the national conversation.
“Social media relies on CSG or coal seam gas references and hashtags (i.e. #CSG),” the note said.
“In order to participate and track conversations it is therefore acceptable to use CSG or coal seam gas on Twitter and Facebook.
“CSG is also a recognised online search term and is a relevant key word for Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). This will assist the public in finding government information on the issue.”
There is also a handwritten note that says the government needs to apply the same approach within the Land and Water Commissioner and the Office of the Chief Scientist.
A spokeswoman for Hartcher said NSW “has adopted the reference following the Commonwealth’s preference to use this terminology as part of a national harmonisation”.HaH
She said the Land and Water Commissioner and the Office of the Chief Scientist can use any terminology they wish as they are independent groups. She added the NSW government is still using both terminologies.
Meanwhile Hartcher told a mining conference in Cessnock this week the mining industry does not have a "viable and confident future" without community support, the Newcastle Herald reported.
He told the NSW Minerals Council's community and environment conference the community's opinion on coal mining was changing. Rather than seeing coal as a means to drive economic growth, the public now saw coal companies placed against its enemies with slim possibility of coexistence.
"Above all, at the end of the day, the strength of the industry lies in its community support," Hartcher said.
"Without the community, without the support of the community, the industry simply does not face a strong and viable future."
Former Santos chairman Peter Coates recently said the company needs to ramp up efforts to better educate communities about the positive effects of natural gas.
CSG producers have admitted they underestimated the scale of opposition their CSG activities would generate.
The NSW Government recently changed CSG regulation, banning all activity within two kilometres of residential and industry areas.