19 – Mining and the Lake Eyre Basin environment 187 studied and quantified. These include effects on groundwater (water level declines and pollution), fugitive emissions (especially methane and volatile hydrocarbons), surface water (methane gas bubbling, and treated waters discharged to rivers), land values, infrastructure (pipelines, roads, ponds and process plants), social impacts, economic issues (especially availability and cost of labour), greenhouse gas footprint and climate change risks (Drinkwater et al. 2014). Existing domestic CSG projects in Queensland were approved under petroleum legislation, with no traditional environmental impact assessment (EIA) process. There were no systematic baseline studies before development to track environmental impacts on groundwater, surface water, flow paths, air quality, water quality, health or demographics. Furthermore, monitoring is historically minimal, with key aspects such as methane still missing in statutory requirements. The domestic CSG projects meet domestic supply obligations but increasingly compete with large CSG export projects, which have undergone normal EIA approvals. Considerable difficulties remain for adequate scientific assessment of environmental and public health impacts from CSG operations (Drinkwater 2015). For the Lake Eyre Basin and its potential CSG developments, there is a need to clearly identify potential impacts on the rivers, groundwater and socio-economic values. Shale gas The rise of unconventional gas extraction from shales, as well as hydrocarbon liquids used to manufacture some petroleum products, has been substantial in the United States (Rao 2012). Fig. 19.10. The patchwork of CSG wells near Chinchilla in Queensland, showing the potential network of roads and cleared platforms that may serious affect river flows of the Lake Eyre Basin if established in the Channel Country (photo, R. T. Kingsford).
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