Greenpeace appeals EPA recommendation to allow Woodside to blow Australia’s carbon budget, pollute into 2070s

SYDNEY, July 21, 2022 -  Greenpeace Australia Pacific is appealing the Western Australian Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) decision to extend the life of Woodside North West Shelf gas processing facility on the grounds that the EPA has failed to properly consider the climate and environment impacts of extending the gas facility for a further 50 years. Western Australia’s Environment Minister, Reece Whitby, should review the EPA’s recommendation to approve the project that threatens to blow Australia’s carbon budget, environmental groups say.

Greenpeace Australia Pacific, represented by the Environmental Defenders Office, is among a record number of individuals and organisations to lodge appeals against the EPA’s assessment and recommendations of the Woodside proposal, calling on the Western Australian Appeals Convenor and Environment Minister to review the EPA’s recommendations which are incompatible with federal targets to achieve net zero emissions by 2050. [1]

Greenpeace Australia Pacific CEO, David Ritter, said the EPA’s recommendation to allow Woodside’s North West Shelf project to be extended for another 50 years shows how fossil fuel companies can exploit weak environmental laws to continue polluting. 

“It is one of those situations where the law is being used to turn logic and common sense upside down. The EPA did not assess the impacts from the gas when it is actually burned by end-users–it just doesn’t pass the pub test. It is a bit like assessing whether a gun is dangerous by considering the industrial accidents that might happen during the manufacturing process–but not from the bullets when the weapon is actually fired,” he said.

“If Woodside is allowed to run the North West Shelf facility through to the 2070s, it would belch out 4.3 billion tonnes of climate pollution, fuelling the climate crisis and rendering national commitments to reduce emissions to net zero by 2050 impossible. 

Greenpeace is opposing the extension of the North West Shelf project because of the enormous climate-related damage it will wreak on our already vulnerable environment. Given the scale of the likely climate harm, it is shocking that the EPA has refused to assess the environmental impacts from the project’s scope 3 emissions. 

“Alarmingly, we have received numerous reports from people unable to lodge their own appeal. This is completely unacceptable on a project of such national significance.

This project should be assessed by the Federal Environment Minister. The release of the alarming findings in this week’s State of the Environment report only strengthens our belief that this is an issue of national importance.” 

EDO Managing Lawyer Brendan Dobbie said:

“The global scientific consensus says there can be no new coal, oil or gas projects if we are to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees in line with the goal of the Paris Agreement. If the EPA’s recommendation was aligned with the science, it would have recommended refusal of this proposal given its significant climate impacts.

“Although the NWS Extension is based in Western Australia, it is likely to have nationally and globally significant impacts, particularly with regards to climate change. This makes the impacts of Woodside’s dangerous gas project relevant to all Australians.

“The record number of appeals demonstrates an unprecedented level of public interest, and the appeal process will be expected to deliver procedural fairness for all objectors to ensure proper scrutiny of this project’s impacts. Decision-makers will be aware that there is a high level of interest across the country as to how the public’s concerns are addressed.

Key information from the WA EPA recommendation:

  • Ongoing operation of the North West Shelf Project to enable long-term processing at the project facilities, up to 2070.
  • The proponent estimates that the Extension Proposal’s scope 3 GHG emissions from the third-party consumption of LNG, LPG, Domgas and condensate, will be approximately 80.19 Mtpa of CO2-e based on currently available and quantifiable information . 
  • With no mitigation, over the 50-year life of the Extension Proposal, total scope 1 GHG emissions are estimated to be up to 385 million tonnes (Mt) of CO2-e.

 

Notes

[1] At the time of publication, the Western Australian Environmental Protection Authority has received more than 320 submissions on the North West Shelf Extension, a record despite technical glitches that hindered and potentially prevented many individuals and organisations from engaging in the submission process. https://www.appealsconvenor.wa.gov.au/Search-appeals  

 

Contact

Greenpeace Australia Pacific Communications and Campaign Officer, Martin Zavan

0424 295 422

[email protected] 

EDO Head of Marketing & Media, Mhairi McClymont

0423339746

[email protected]