The Liberal Party is claiming that my campaign for action on climate change is inconsistent with an earlier brief association with a fossil fuel company called Linc Energy.
I joined Linc Energy in late 2010 as Acting Chairman, on a board of five directors. It was at a time when the company had just sold its major coal assets and was changing strategic direction to focus on cleaner energy solutions. It was developing technologies to produce synthetic forms of gas, by gasifying coal underground that could be made into hydrogen, diesel and aviation fuel.
Within a very short space of time, the Queensland government started to encourage coal seam gas activities across the state. Such technologies were technically incomparable with Linc’s underground coal gasification (UCG) strategy. Before long, the company therefore began to revert to its traditional fossil fuel technologies. Such a business was of no interest to me. Hence, I resigned from my position and ceased engagement with the company within 10 months of my commencement.
Linc did indeed cause environmental damage to soils and water in its UCG test area. Operational mistakes were made by the company and by the Queensland government in its monitoring of the facility. Linc Energy, in liquidation, did not defend itself in court and was found guilty of willfully and unlawfully causing serious environmental harm in its testing of UCG technology between 2007 and 2013. The case is continuing.
Recently the Department of Environmental Science has undertaken extensive soil and air testing and did not find evidence of subsoil gases leading to unsafe levels of air pollutants in the community outside the test area. Testing of surface soil and groundwater has also not revealed any associated impacts on neighbouring properties.
I regret my brief involvement with this company. Clearly this process has been upsetting, especially for the people on neighbouring properties and the broader community