James Price Point and fight to protect Kimberley from the new gas -

James Price Point and fight to protect Kimberley from the new gas

Ten years ago, Western Australian firm Woodside Energy and its joint venture partners exited an $80 billion LNG demonstration project at Walmadany (James Price Point). It took one of the most effective environmental campaigns in Australian history to win. Traditional guardians and the local community, with national and international support, protected the Kimberley Coast from the world’s largest gas refineries and subsequent industrialization.

Walmadany, with its endangered monsoon forests, beaches of nesting turtles, bilbies, and the world’s largest fossilized dinosaur footprints, was saved. Its many midges, song records, burial sites and priceless Aboriginal heritage were protected by 30 square kilometers of concrete and the adjacent perimeter was defended from becoming a 50 square kilometer “dead zone” as described in government reports.

“Protect Songlines” – Appeal from Traditional Secretaries Phillip Roe, Eric Hunter and Richard Hunter © Damian Kelly

Ten years later, the fossil fuel industry is back, determined to burn every last molecule of methane, no matter the cost to our climate and the risks and damage to the world’s most important natural refuges.

I’ve been here before. The fossil fuel industry will stop at nothing to make outrageous profits, regardless of the damage to ecosystems, water reserves, and climate. we have no choice; We must continue to fight together until the region is protected.

The new battle is to prevent the world-famous landscape of the Kimberley from turning into a cracking inferno. Oil and gas companies want to build vast gas fields on land in the Kimberley Canning Basin, which would require thousands of wells to feed an export pipeline. Buru Energy is marking a National Heritage-listed floating LNG facility in King Sound – a vast expanse of the last stronghold of the endangered freshwater sawfish, replete with mangrove systems and rich mudflats that support saltwater crocodiles and crocodilians. The Martuwarra Fitzroy, a National Heritage-listed river, flows into King Sound, creating a rich ecosystem with one of the highest tides in the world.

Oil and gas exploration well platform encroaching on mangrove system King Sound © Damian Kelly

If fracking continues, carbon pollution could be more than twice Australia’s energy Paris Agreement carbon budget. The Kimberley Conservation Society has been holding back the fracking tide by raising awareness, leading protests, putting pressure on government, and sending tens of thousands of requests to the Environmental Protection Agency and Industry Accountability Authority.

Woodside and its joint venture partners, with BP the biggest backer, are out again in the show basin, focusing on drilling around Scott Reef, 400km off the Kimberley coast. This time they want to transport the gas, which has a high carbon dioxide content, to Pilbara for processing at existing facilities. The gas plant will release a carbon bomb of six billion tons of carbon dioxide over its lifetime. An oil spill would devastate Scott’s Reef and threaten the pygmy whales that travel here annually.

Kimberley locals welcomed the ‘Rainbow Warrior’, who visited Broome to support the ‘Whales Not Woodside’ campaign, keeping Browse Basin gas in the land and stopping hydraulic fracturing in the Kimberley.

Having the Rainbow Warrior here and sharing information about our campaigns in the Kimberley and abroad, and hearing about the concerns of traditional owners about climate change was an event that galvanized us all. A decade ago, the Kimberley community rallied to shut down the proposed Woodside LNG demonstration terminal at James Price Point. We won.

Now, we’re ready to once again show the strength of the force against Buru Energy, letting them know that the community is behind us, and we won’t stand up for their new plans.

Written by Martin Pritchard – Director of Strategy, Environs Kimberley