Greenpeace Australia Pacific is today calling for Federal Government intervention, following explosive claims aired by the ABC that senior members of the Western Australian government lobbied to change the WA Environmental Protection Authority (EPA)’s climate change rules.

With Australia’s biggest fossil fuel decision currently before the WA EPA, Greenpeace Australia Pacific is calling on the Federal Environment Minister to step in and independently assess Woodside’s massive North West Shelf gas proposal. 

It follows recent reports that Western Australia’s former Environmental Protection Agency [EPA] chief claimed former premier Mark McGowan pressured him to withdraw tough emissions guidelines, noting the decision had reportedly triggered massive backlash from Woodside.

Greenpeace Australia Pacific Head of Clean Energy Transition Jess Panegyres said the said Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek must carry out an independent assessment of Woodside’s North West Shelf project in light of the claims.

“There are now serious questions being raised about the independence of the WA EPA. In light of the perception of compromised independence and the staggering emissions from this project, we believe it must be subject to an independent Federal assessment. Decisions this big cannot be left to a body that’s former chief has alleged is subject to serious interference,” she said.

“The WA EPA has recently assessed the biggest new fossil fuel project in Australia – Woodside’s North West Shelf Extension, which would see WA’s oldest and most polluting gas plant operate until 2070, contributing 4.3 billion tonnes of additional greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

“Greenpeace is currently appealing the WA EPA’s recommendation that Woodside’s proposal should be approved. Greenpeace is calling on the Federal Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek – who will ultimately decide whether to approve this project or not – to immediately conduct an independent assessment of the impacts of the North West Shelf. 

“We have looked closely at the WA EPA’s assessment of Woodside’s North West Shelf and consider it to be fundamentally flawed. We believe the full impacts of the project have never been properly assessed and are concerned that the project is inconsistent with the Albanese Government’s Climate Change Act and with stabilising global warming at 1.5 degrees. 

“The scope 1 emissions alone from this project are enormous – 385 million tonnes – and we are concerned  this project is inconsistent with the Australian government’s legislated target of net zero emissions by 2050. 

“The total greenhouse gas emissions from this project – equivalent to almost 9 years of Australia’s total emissions – would directly contribute to the worsening floods, bushfires, heatwaves and droughts that are already affecting communities across Western Australia and the rest of the country. The emissions will have far-reaching environmental impacts in Western Australia, Australia and the world. This project should never be approved. At the very least, it should be subject to the highest level of independent scrutiny.

“We are appealing this decision with the WA Appeals Convenor.

“Woodside has a history of throwing its weight around, attempting to pressure state and federal governments to serve its interests, instead of the public interest. Woodside is currently trying to push ahead with the biggest new fossil fuel project in Australia, the Burrup Hub, of which the North West Shelf is a key component. 

“It is essential that their projects are subject to the highest level of scrutiny, given their grave implications for climate change,” Panegyres added.