The Federal Government Â Labor/Green alliance would like to close down all operating coal-fired power stations in Australia. The fact that these coal-fired power stations all work perfectly well, and could continue to work decades into the future means nothing. The Gillard government is determined to destroy this infrastructure and replace it withÂ renewablesÂ or gas-fired power stations.
Why replace them with gas-fired power stations? Â When gas is burnt to produce electricity it emits less carbon dioxide than the burning of coal does. Coal is a more complex molecule, so it emits a higher level of carbon dioxide (CO2). Â Natural Gas produces about 45% less carbon dioxide than coal. However proponents of natural gas never talk about the cost of drilling, collecting and processing the gas. All these processes emit carbon dixoide.
Where does Australia get its natural gas from?
Most of it comes from existing natural gas basins, but there is increasing interest in Coal-Seam gas and Shale Gas.
Shale Gas is extracted from shales that have a lowÂ permeability, so drillers are required to fracture the rock to get the gas out. This called fracking, and hasÂ environmentalÂ problems of its own. Â Fracking involves injecting large amounts of water, mixed with sand and many dangerous chemicals, at high pressures to break up rock formations and release the gas. As well the production of coal seam releases large volumes of salt that is underground.Â If you are interested in finding out how fracking has been going in the USA, try to watch a film called Gasland. Coal Seam gas extraction canÂ polluteÂ groundwater, Â You can read more about the Australian community reaction to coal seam gas extraction at LocktheGate.org.au
So the Federal Labor/Greens alliance is happy to risk ourÂ environmentÂ by covering Australia with Coal Seam and Shale Gas drill rigs, pipelines and processing.