The Australian Greens are calling on Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke to do the right thing by Kangaroo Island by requiring a detailed environmental impact assessment to happen before Bight Petroleum can start exploring for oil and gas off the Island's west coast.
Today Bight Petroleum - which holds two exploration permits about 50km to the west of Kangaroo Island - formally applied for approval to begin oil and gas exploration in the area between January and May next year. The company intends to start drilling in 2014.
"Kangaroo Island Mayor Jayne Bates has described Bight Petroleum's proposals as 'all risk and no gain' to the island community and we completely agree. The risks of oil and gas exploration in this area are unacceptably high," Australian Greens Senator for South Australia, Penny Wright, said.
"Imagine a jackhammer blasting away in your kitchen every few seconds, 24 hours a day, for 60 days non-stop. You would avoid your kitchen and go hungry or get very stressed and risk your hearing in order to get something to eat. That is how seismic testing might affect the fish, seals, dolphins and whales for which this area is critical habitat.
"An oil spill reaching the shores of Kangaroo Island would absolutely devastate marine life and cause irreparable damage to the local fishing and tourism industries which so many locals depend on for their livelihood.
"The Australian Greens say Bight Petroleum's permits should be revoked and the area protected within a Commonwealth marine-park 'no oil and gas' zone. But, failing that, Minister Burke must take the most precautionary approach possible when assessing Bight Petroleum's proposed activities.
"I join with the Kangaroo Island community in urging the Minister to declare these activities a 'Controlled Action' under national environmental laws so that further detailed assessment must be undertaken.
"We need to put this special place - and its people - before the short-term interests of the resource industry. Kangaroo Island is just too precious to lose."