Farmers protest coal seam gas

Farmers and conservationists from across Australia have disrupted a coal seam gas conference, accusing mining companies of threatening the environment and rural livelihoods.

Police formed a line to keep protesters away from the mining bosses annual coal seam gas conference in Brisbane on Tuesday last week.

Up to 100 protesters blocked the driveway to the Sofitel Hotel where the conference was under way.

One protester was arrested for trying to break through the police barricade, but he was later released without charge.

The protest trapped Queensland Environment Minister Kate Jones inside the hotel amid security concerns they would climb on her car if she attempted to leave the conference.

She left without incident later in the morning when the rally dispersed, though the protesters returned in smaller numbers about noon.

The protesters, who included farmers from NSW and Western Australia, want the government to impose a moratorium on coal seam gas.

Theyre concerned about chemicals used in the extraction process, groundwater contamination, dealing with contaminated wastewater and the degradation of farm lands.

But the government and the coal seam gas sector say the gas is a cleaner energy alternative to coal and will provide a massive economic boost for Queensland.

Ms Jones told the conference the government was committed to the industry, but she wanted to get the balance right between the economy and the environment.
http://www.countrynews.com.au/story.asp?TakeNo=201106064005736

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