Government digs excuses for more oil & gas out from under COVID

SYDNEY, 17 April 2020 - Oil companies would be allowed to hold on to oil drilling rights that they would normally lose, according to an announcement made today by Minister for Resources, Water and Northern Australia Keith Pitt.

In a move reminiscent of the Western Australian suspension of the “use it or lose it” rule for onshore gas, Minister Pitt’s announcement today is throwing a desperate lifeline to oil and gas companies that have failed to adapt to a carbon-constrained world by shifting to clean energy.

“This is a disgraceful announcement. While Australians are worried for their health and welfare, the government is using coronavirus as an excuse to make it easier to extend the deadline for existing oil,” said Nathaniel Pelle, Senior Campaigner at Greenpeace Australia Pacific.

“The number one priority right now is protecting the health and wellbeing of Australians, yet this announcement shows the profits of the fossil fuel industry are being put first.”

“This move will overwhelmingly favour overseas oil companies who are notorious tax avoiders, and contribute nothing to Australia while driving the climate damage behind this summer’s severe bushfire season.”

“Recent studies have shown that people whose respiratory health has suffered because of air pollution are more vulnerable to COVID-19, and fossil fuels are a huge driver of air pollution.”

“We’ve seen during this crisis that extraordinary things are possible with bipartisan cooperation, listening to the science, and putting people first. The Federal Government can and should apply this same rationale to carbon pollution.”

“This is a historic opportunity to build back better and re-engineer our economy with clean technology, rather than drilling for more destructive and dirty fossil fuels.”

For more information please contact Communications Manager Nelli Stevenson on 0481 303 815 or email [email protected]

Notes:
Minister Pitt’s announcement: https://www.minister.industry.gov.au/ministers/pitt/media-releases/flexibility-offshore-explorers-during-covid-19-crisis

Study linking air pollution and COVID-19 deaths: https://projects.iq.harvard.edu/covid-pm