Legal experts from the EDO will be heading to Western Australia’s Supreme Court over Australia’s biggest fossil fuel project – Woodside Energy’s massive Burrup Hub gas development.
On behalf of the Conservation Council of WA, we’ll be arguing changes to approvals for two Burrup Hub gas facilities were made unlawfully, without a full assessment of their impacts on our climate.
These changes mean the facilities are now approved to process unlimited quantities of gas overall, helping unlock two major new basins off the coast of Western Australia which would send Australia’s emissions skyrocketing.
We will argue the WA state government unlawfully approved these changes without a full assessment, leaving Australians in the dark about potentially devastating impacts on our climate, communities, coral reefs, and native species.
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The Burrup Hub Project
The Burrup Hub on the Western Australian coastline is the biggest fossil fuel project in Australia’s history.
If it goes ahead, Woodside’s project would unlock two major new gas fields leading to the equivalent of an estimated 6 billion tonnes of carbon pollution, with annual emissions equal to those of New Zealand, Ireland, Norway and Bolivia combined.
This would make it the biggest fossil fuel project in Australia’s history, and has earned it a place as one of twelve global ‘carbon bombs’ in a new international report.
The emissions from this development would further catapult global warming and cause irreversible damage to our life support systems, threatening coral reefs from Ningaloo to the Great Barrier Reef, and driving more drought, bushfires, floods and dangerous weather.
Not only that, this massive gas hub would sit on the Burrup Peninsula/Murujuga – a rugged coastal region rich with unique wildlife and cultural history, which has been placed on the tentative World Heritage list but is being increasingly industrialised by projects like this.
The community has been fighting the Burrup Hub project for years – now the legal experts from EDO are helping them take it all the way to the Supreme Court.
This Supreme Court case is about ensuring the climate impacts of each aspect of the massive Burrup Hub proposal are properly assessed, every step of the way.
On behalf of Conservation Council of Western Australia, we will be arguing the state government unlawfully approved changes to plans for two Burrup Hub gas facilities – the Pluto LNG and Karratha Gas Plant onshore gas processing facilities.
That’s because Woodside changed the scope of these projects after they were initially approved, and our client says the impact of those changes hasn’t been properly assessed.
Under the original approvals the facilities were limited to processing gas from two proposed gas projects with known, limited lifespans.
As a result of the changes, which were approved by the state’s Environmental Protection Authority, the facilities are now unrestricted in terms of the source of the gas they are able to process.
We will argue on behalf of our client the government made an error by not applying the correct test in deciding whether the changes might have environmental impacts requiring further assessments.
While restrictions remain in terms of the volume of gas these facilities are able to process every year, the facilities are now approved for operation over an indefinite lifespan processing gas from an indefinite number of sources.
Because of these changes and the lack of assessment, the public now has no idea how much gas will be processed through these facilities, nor the overall amount of emissions likely to be facilitated by these projects.
These changes also have the potential to effectively unlock new onshore and offshore gas fields – including the massive Scarborough and Browse fields – by providing processing capacity which was not available prior to the changes being made.
It is estimated that developing these gas fields would result in gigatonnes of extra greenhouse gas emissions released into the atmosphere, helping drive devastating climate change.
Australians deserve clarity on the environmental impacts of fossil fuel projects that are being approved.
The public needs to be confident any changes to project approvals are being properly assessed and not simply rubber stamped by government.
Our client has engaged in good faith with the EPA and Woodside for over a year on this issue, and is now left with no choice but to apply to the Supreme Court in their stand for due process and transparency.
From boots on the ground to the boardroom – our lawyers are there for communities
Our legal team is at the frontline of the community’s battle against damaging new gas and oil projects.
Driven by the support of people like you, we’re providing urgent, on-the-ground legal support to communities right across Australia fighting new gas and oil developments like those on the Burrup Peninsula.
Below is a map of our work challenging gas developments and exploration across the country.
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EDO recognises the traditional owners and custodians of the land, seas and rivers of Australia. We pay our respects to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander elders past and present, and aspire to learn from traditional knowledge and customs so that, together, we can protect our environment and cultural heritage through law.