Last week, WA Premier Roger Cook asked “what is it about people’s obsession with Woodside?” Given the millions Woodside has spent on constructing the lie that it is a good corporate citizen of Western Australia, plastering its logo all across our beloved sporting and cultural institutions, it’s an understandable query.

It is also a question that deserves a clear answer, so here it goes: people in WA and around the world are increasingly focussed on Woodside because of the huge threat it poses to WA’s oceans and wildlife, and to our global climate. 

There is mounting disgust at the impunity with which Woodside is being allowed to proceed with its destructive plans. As Tim Winton has said “we can’t keep averting our gaze and pretending that this isn’t happening”. 

Just last week, Woodside got the green light from the regulator to start seismic blasting off WA’s north-west coast. Right now, Woodside’s blasting ship is headed toward WA’s coastline. Soon, there will be underwater sonic cannons exploding in the habitat of endangered whales. 

As the shocking recent footage of beaching pilot whales at Cheynes Beach showed, cetaceans are deeply sensitive to changes in their environment. Seismic blasting is incredibly loud and can damage the hearing of whales, leaving the creatures unable to navigate, communicate or forage for food. A deaf whale is a dead whale.

And it is not only the whales. Some of the most incredible and pristine places in our oceans – jewels like Scott Reef, Rowley Shoals, Mermaid Sound and even the world-famous Ningaloo Reef – are all at risk. 

Woodside wants to run pipelines and drill for gas on the fringes of some of Australia’s most intact coral reefs. Whether or not you’re an environmentalist, no one can deny the value of the billions of dollars these fishing, diving, and tourism hotspots bring to the WA economy every year. All that could be lost because of Woodside’s corporate greed.

Then there’s the straight out climate impacts. We’ve already seen our state and country burn, flood, and crack under unprecedented weather extremes, supercharged by climate change that is driven by the burning of coal, oil, and gas. It’s the same confronting story the world over. 

Not only is Woodside perpetuating harm, it’s also stopping progress on solutions. 

For instance, modelling commissioned by Woodside from the CSIRO demonstrated that Woodside’s gas exports risked crowding out the growth of renewable energy in Asia – this was a report Woodside tried to suppress, but journalists uncovered through freedom of information requests. 

Woodside has also made claims about the local business benefits for its gas, which are baseless. Most of the gas from Scarborough and Browse will be exported so it won’t have a significant impact on the Australian grid. 

And by attempting to lock in decades of future gas extraction, Woodside is crowding out clean energy, making it difficult for governments and businesses to invest in renewable infrastructure and supply. This makes it more expensive for polluting-but-essential industries like steel and mining to switch to clean energy, and means that West Australians get left behind as other nations take the prize share of jobs and opportunities from the global shift to clean, low-emissions energy and resources. 

This is the context in which Woodside is pushing ahead with the Burrup Hub, which involves drilling multiple wells across two huge massive offshore gas fields and extending the operations of gas infrastructure until 2070. 

Woodside knows full well that if it goes ahead, the Burrup Hub will be Australia’s dirtiest fossil fuel project, producing the equivalent of more than 12 times Australia’s annual domestic climate pollution. But Woodside apparently doesn’t care, so long as it can deliver short-term profits to shareholders.

Going back to the Premier’s question – which he asked in the context of some protestors turning up outside Woodside CEO Meg O’Neill’s house last week – it’s no wonder that so many people are obsessed with stopping Woodside. 

And it is a shame that the protestors became the story – rather than that Woodside had been given the green light to blast the ocean.

The quiet frustration is growing, amongst ordinary people who are worried about the future and are fed up with Woodside being allowed to chuck a spanner in the works.

There is a rising tide of determination that the state’s future can be clean, safe, and prosperous – powered by renewable energy. The real obsession is with building that better future; which is why so many West Australians are now determined to stop Woodside. You can join them.

Tell Woodside it’s time to walk away from its toxic gas project.

David Ritter is the CEO of Greenpeace Australia Pacific