Environmental regulation

The oil and gas industry supports effective, efficient and transparent regulation based on sound science.

The industry works to highest standards, uses hundreds of environmental scientists, and in Australia it has a long history of responsible environmental management.

However, streamlining oil and gas environmental regulations could save taxpayers and industry millions of dollars without weakening safety and environmental outcomes.

The oil and gas industry faces overlapping state and federal laws with duplicative, inconsistent and often arbitrary requirements. Projects are delayed and costs significantly increased without improving environmental outcomes.

Need for reform

In April 2012, COAG Ministers agreed that there is an overwhelming need for regulatory reform particularly to reduce duplication and double-handling of environmental assessment and approvals processes. As yet, little progress has been made in this area.

Reform would reduce costs for regulatory agencies (and taxpayers), and increase returns to project developers, suppliers, workers and governments.

Policies that undermine the development of energy projects and curtail energy production impose real costs on Australia through lost jobs, forgone economic growth, and higher energy bills.

A large burden

Environmental approvals are usually subject to a range of conditions. These often require the development and approval of more specific management plans, the monitoring of performance and impacts, remedial action and investment in further environmental research or environment protection programs.

For major projects these programs add tens of millions of dollars to already high project costs and significantly increase regulatory uncertainty.

For example, it took more than three years and a 13,500 page Environmental Impact Statement for the Gladstone LNG Project to achieve commonwealth and state approval. These approvals included 1200 strict conditions over the project’s operations and requirements for further extensive scientific work to be undertaken as the project proceeds.

Cutting Green Tape

An APPEA report, Cutting Green Tape: streamlining major oil and gas project environmental approvals processes in Australia, outlines the scale of this problem and makes recommendations on how the regulatory burden can be alleviated.