Australia’s Federal Government proposes streamlined environmental approval process for offshore petroleum and greenhouse gas storage activities (25 November 2013)

The Australian Federal Government has released two draft reports for public comment on establishing a ‘one-stop-shop’ environmental approval process for offshore petroleum and greenhouse gas storage activities.

The reports are a requirement of the strategic assessment process under national environmental law. Public comments on the reports will help inform the Federal Minister for the Environment whether to approve the proposed new arrangements.

The environmental impacts of offshore petroleum activities are currently regulated under both the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the EPBC Act) and the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Act 2006.

The Federal Minister for Industry, Mr Ian Macfarlane, said the current system often resulted in unnecessary duplication and was a burden on business. “These changes will simplify the regulatory process by removing the need for petroleum exploration, production and greenhouse gas storage activities to be assessed under two acts [of Parliament], which ultimately have the same objective of environmental protection,” Mr Macfarlane said.

Information sessions with key stakeholders will take place in Perth, Melbourne and Canberra early in the consultation period.  An exposure draft of amendments to the Environment Regulations will also be made available for public comment in early December 2013.

The key documents are available here: www.industry.gov.au/streamlining.