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Wednesday 20 June 2012 The Chairperson Environment Protection Authority The Atrium 168 St Georges Terrace Perth, Western

Australia 6000 By email: paul.vogel@epa.wa.gov.au URGENT

Dear Dr Vogel Thank you for meeting with representatives of The Wilderness Society (WA) this morning to discuss our profound and ongoing concerns over the assessment of the Browse LNG Precinct proposal James Price Point. We understand that the EPA is now committed to presenting its recommendations on the proposal to government by the end of this month (June). As we stated in our meeting we consider that the EPA has every reason, and indeed is obliged to, recommend against this proposal. In summary, the reasons the EPA must recommend against the proposal are that: 1. The Browse LNG strategic assessment process has been compromised by the proponent through the provision of inadequate and unreliable information, or no substantive information at all, in relation to many of the key factors identified in the original EPA-endorsed Strategic Assessment Scoping Report. Compounding the problem, the proponent failed to undertake the comprehensive scientific peer review process it committed to under Section 14 of the Scoping Report. 2. By trying to rush through its approval (to satisfy political considerations), the proponent has failed to undertake properly designed studies over sufficiently long timeframes to do justice to the scale of the project, the significance of the area and the general lack of prior data and relevant studies. 3. As a result of the above, the EPA is assessing a series of compromised reports and unsubstantiated assertions from the proponent that have been strongly criticised, challenged and debunked by independent scientists, local community volunteers working with independent scientists, and expert technical consultants. This includes, but is not limited to, the proponents work and assertions in the areas of dredging, bilbies, whales
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and dolphins, marine turtles, sawfish, monsoon vine thickets, dinosaur tracksites, Indigenous cultural heritage and social impacts. 4. The detailed information provided to the EPA by independent scientific and community sources, mostly at no cost to the public, is at least as credible and deserving of the EPAs favourable consideration as anything provided by the proponent and this information clearly indicates that (a) the proponents work is unreliable and (b) the proposed precinct has the potential to have unacceptable and unmanageable impacts on a range of extremely important features and values. 5. The proponent has not only breached, or failed to comply with, the requirements of the EPAendorsed Scoping Report; it has also breached the requirements of the Commonwealth-WA government bilateral Strategic Assessment Agreement (2008), including the requirements to: [Provide] a comprehensive description of each type of development or facility comprising the precinct and its associated infrastructure; [Analyse] technically and economically viable gas processing options outside the Kimberley focusing on locations that already have substantial industrial infrastructure, inclusive of floating LNG; [Assess] Indigenous environmental values and Indigenous cultural heritage values, including all values held by Traditional Owners in the area likely to be affected; [Assess] cumulative impacts. [Achieve] broad-based scientific and community support for the selected location.

6. Conservationists and scientists hold grave fears that based on the inadequate work presented to the EPA by the proponent, approval may be recommended for a project that the proponent knows, or could reasonably expect, will have far greater impacts than are being disclosed. This relates in particular to: a. impacts on marine wildlife from port construction and operation; b. impacts on rare and unique monsoon vine forests; c. impacts on high productivity fish aggregation areas and the highly sensitive Lacepede Islands from cumulative marine pollution including dredging, routine wastewater discharge and ballast water discharge; d. impacts on globally significant dinosaur tracksites; e. impacts from air emissions, both greenhouse gases and a range of toxic/noxious emissions; f. water use. 7. As a result of the deficiencies in the process, the public has not been meaningfully consulted on the proposal as required under the EP Act and Administrative Procedures and as required under Part 13 of the Scoping Report, because the public has never been provided with adequate or accurate, up-to-date information about the location, layout, components, scale, impacts or risks of the project. In order to partially address this fundamental deficiency, we have previously written to the EPA proposing an EPA-sponsored public forum on the most up-to-date science around the
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significance of the dinosaur tracksites and the impacts upon them of the gas hub. Such an approach should not only apply to the tracksites, but is necessary in order to address a range of other areas where independent science contradicts the reports and assertions of the proponent. 8. The EPA and other expert bodies and government agencies have long recommended the James Price Point-Quandong Point coast and hinterland for protection as part of WAs conservation estate due to the regions high conservation values. The local community, once again, has recently compiled and documented these formal and official recommendations for protection dating back to 1962. A copy of this report will be forwarded to the EPA as soon as possible. 9. International studies have identified the Kimberley coastal and marine environment as one of the most pristine/least impacted such regions left on Earth, outside of the polar regions (Halpern et al 2008). Nowhere has this global significance been factored into the proponents assessment documentation. The EPA simply cannot, in meeting its statutory objectives and carrying out its statutory functions, ignore such a significant issue. 10. Relevant to the EPAs statutory principles, including the precautionary principle, the gas hub does not have to be built at James Price Point or on the Kimberley coast. The benefits the government claims would be derived from a Kimberley gas hub can equally be derived via processing at already existing brownfields industrial infrastructure sites. You suggested on several occasions in our meeting that various outstanding matters and inadequacies in the strategic assessment could be addressed through a subsequent derived proposal process but our understanding is that, (a) once a project is designated a derived proposal there is no further requirement for environmental, social or cultural heritage assessment, there is merely an EPA process to issue pollution licenses; (b) in order for any future proponent to achieve derived proposal status the strategic assessment proponent has to provide sufficient information up front in the strategic assessment process, which clearly has not occurred. We also note, contrary to any potential designation of a project as a derived proposal, that the Premier is on the public record stating that any subsequent proposal for an actual LNG facility would be subject to full environmental assessment (Hansard; ASSEMBLY Wednesday, 31 August 2011). We request your urgent clarification on what you meant by apparently relying on a derived proposal process in order to correct flaws in the strategic assessment. We understand you believe the EPA must report by the end of June, despite your recognition that the process has been flawed, because the process has already taken a long time. We reiterate our belief that there is no requirement for the EPA to meet any such arbitrary deadline if in so doing it accepts information from the proponent that is clearly inadequate at best and misleading or wrong at worst. We also understand that you believe the EPAs previous Section 16 advice, dating from 2008, which identified James Price Point as a manageable location, still has relevance despite all the information that has come to light since then as to the importance and sensitivity of that location.
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We question the relevance of that report in light of what the community and independent scientists have subsequently explained and documented. We also point out that the EPA is not obliged to recommend approval of the James Price Point precinct simply because it previously advised the government that impacts at that site may be manageable. The EPA is quite entitled to review its position based on new information which has been presented to it. The EPAs previous advice to the government that the James Price Point site may be manageable was never an assurance to the government that a precinct at that site would ever be recommended for approval. We also understand that you believe it is not the EPAs role to decide that the Kimberley, or some other location, is a no go zone for development. We respond that it is absolutely the EPAs statutory responsibility to protect the environment and that includes identifying parts of WA that are too important to be developed (destroyed), or that are only suitable for particular types of development. The EPAs statutory ability to produce Environment Protection Policies covering such areas, for example, confirms our belief that the EPA does have this role. It is definitely NOT the role or responsibility of the independent EPA, however, to endorse and facilitate projects because the government of the day has decided it wants them. If the government is determined to go ahead anyway, let it publicly overrule the EPAs soundly based advice to the contrary and take the consequences. To do otherwise threatens the public credibility and hence survival of the EPA. For the reasons above we consider the EPA has no alternative other than to recommend against the Browse LNG precinct proposal, and urge the EPA to decide accordingly. Yours sincerely

Peter Robertson State Coordinator The Wilderness Society (WA) Inc. 'City West Lotteries House' 2 Delhi St, West Perth 6005 c.c. Conservation Council WA Environs Kimberley Australian Conservation Foundation Broome Community No Gas Campaign Goolarabooloo Community EDO WA WWF-Australia