Legislation amending the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the EPBC Act)to establish an Independent Expert Scientific Committee on Coal Seam Gas and Large Coal Mining Development has been referred for inquiry to the Senate Standing Committees on Environment and Communications.

 

The Independent Committee would:

  • advise on research priorities;
  • advise on bioregional assessments in areas of high potential impact from coal seam gas and/or large coal mining developments, including providing advice to the Commonwealth Minister for the Environment on the priority areas in which these assessments should be undertaken;
  • advise on research and bioregional assessments commissioned by the Commonwealth Minister for the Environment following consideration of the Committee’s advice;
  • publish information on options for improving the consistency and comparability of research in this area including in relation to the development of leading practice standards in relation to the protection of water resources from the impacts of coal seam gas and large coal mining developments;
  • provide the Environment Minister and the appropriate Minister in declared state and territory governments with expert scientific advice relating to coal seam gas and large coal mining development proposals that may have a significant impact on water resources; and
  • provide advice outside this scope in certain circumstances.

Submissions are required by 19 April 2012. The reporting date is 20 June 2012.

More information about the inquiry is here.