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Hands across the Sand 2019 on KI | PHOTOS

Source: The (KI) Islander

Residents concerned about a disastrous oil spill on Kangaroo Island shoreline attended the 2019 Hands across the Sand event at Emu Bay on Sunday, May 5.

SOS KI: Participants at the Hands across the Sand protest action at Emu  Bay on Sunday spelled out Save our Seas with their bodies. Drone  photography by Greame Ricketts.

SOS KI: Participants at the Hands across the Sand protest action at Emu Bay on Sunday spelled out Save our Seas with their bodies. Drone photography by Greame Ricketts.

Almost 90 people gathered on the beach at Emu Bay standing in a line linking hands, before spelling out SOS for Save Our Seas.

Down on the Island's southern shores at Vivonne Bay, about 20 members of the Island Board Riders also formed a line in the sand.

Norwegian oil company Equinor has now submitted its plan for a test well 500 km west of Kangaroo Island.

Full story (+ photos) here

Port Fairy Hands across the Sand event to protest drilling in the Great Australian Bight draws hundreds to beach

Source: The Standard

Over 100 people gathered on South Beach in Port Fairy for the Hands in the Sand protest. Picture: Christine Ansorge

Over 100 people gathered on South Beach in Port Fairy for the Hands in the Sand protest. Picture: Christine Ansorge

People power has been unleashed in Port Fairy to protest the plan by Norwegian energy company Equinor to drill for oil in the Great Australian Bight.

Over 350 people joined the 'Hands across the Sand' event on South Beach in a show of solidarity against the energy giant's exploration proposal.

Event organiser Ben Druitt said he was happy with the attendance given the number of Fight for the Bight events that had been held recently.

"The Fight for the Bight issue has been big all around the country," Mr Druitt said.

"Hopefully this becomes a serious issue for the election."

Full story here

2019 Hands Across the Sand campaign on Town Beach, Port Macquarie

Source: Port Macquarie News
HASTINGS campaigners for a cleaner future came together on Town Beach on May 4 to send a message to federal candidates that time for action on the environment is now.

They stood in silent solidarity on Town Beach as a part of the global Hands Across the Sand movement to steer energy policy away from the dependence on fossil fuels.

Co-organiser Meegan Stephens said it was an opportunity to draw a line in the sand and say no to fossil fuels, demanding the attention of politicians to embrace cleaner energy options and renewables.

"A lot more people across Australia are engaged on this matter," Ms Stephens said on the issue of climate change being a matter of priority at the looming federal election on May 18.

"This is about sending a clear message to the world that we care about our environment."

Full story here

Surfers Fight to Block Oil Drilling in the Great Australian Bight

Source: The New York Times

Surfers paddling out through the breakers at Bondi Beach in Sydney, Australia, on Sunday in protest against oil and gas drilling in the Great Australian Bight. Credit: Anna Maria Antoinette D’Addario for The New York Times

Surfers paddling out through the breakers at Bondi Beach in Sydney, Australia, on Sunday in protest against oil and gas drilling in the Great Australian Bight.
Credit: Anna Maria Antoinette D’Addario for The New York Times

SYDNEY, Australia — The “paddle out” is surfing’s most hallowed ritual, a floating memorial ceremony in which mourners join hands and reminisce at sea.

On Sunday, surfers paddled out from Australia’s most famous beach, but this time it was not to remember one of their own. Instead, they were calling attention to a stretch of rich, pristine ocean that they say faces a mortal threat from a plan to open it to natural gas and oil drilling.

The gathering, on Bondi Beach in Sydney, was part of a series of protests that have gathered force in recent weeks across Australia in an effort to protect the Great Australian Bight, a haven for some of the world’s most unusual marine life.

The proposal by the Norwegian company Equinor to drill in the waters off Australia’s southern coast has galvanized surfers, including generations of the sport’s most famous professionals here. Surfing holds great economic, social and cultural significance in Australia, which has some of the world’s most beautiful, unspoiled coastlines.

“Today is the day we draw a line in the sand,” said Damien Cole, a surfer who led the paddle out from Bondi’s shore. “We’re in the midst of a climate emergency, and here’s a company working with our federal government to go into one of the most remote and pristine ecosystems, risking everything.”

As federal elections approach on May 18, the Equinor proposal is becoming a test of whether Australia is more committed to extraction of natural resources or protection of unspoiled ecosystems, with beaches as a political forum.

Jacqueline Williams

Full story at The New York Times

Coastal campaigners look to ride big wave of worry over gas, oil plans

Source: The Age

As massive waves and the world’s best surfers descended on Bells Beach this week, Damien Cole seized the chance to draw attention to his cause.

The Surfrider Foundation ambassador and independent candidate for the coastal Corangamite electorate is on a mission to fight plans to drill for oil in the Great Australian Bight.

He harnessed attention on the Rip Curl Pro surfing contest and recruited professional surfers, including John John Florence and Owen Wright to his environmental fight.

Australia’s best-known surfing contest and the federal election was a perfect storm for Mr Cole who has organised protests, most recently in Torquay, against the drilling proposal.

“It’s come at a time during this election campaign where our communities are worried. For them this is definitely a huge issue. It could really affect our way of life, our coast, our communities,” he told The Age.

Victorians know the state is gripped by drought and many are calling for stronger action on climate change.

'If you're not going to represent us, we're not going to elect you.' As the message of surfers defending the Great Australian Bight is clear, Independent candidate for Corangamite Damien Cole saw an opportunity.

But it is the health of the coastline that is also exercising voters’ minds in key seaside electorates.

Mr Cole insists his Surfrider ambassadorial role is apolitical and separate from his campaign to win the ultra-marginal and Liberal-held Corangamite electorate, which lies south-west of Melbourne.

But his campaign against oil wells in the bight has made a big splash, forcing his political opponents to take notice.

Corangamite MP Sarah Henderson is also trying to ride the wave of community anger over the bight drilling plans.

Last weekend she donned a wetsuit and joined surfers at the Torquay protest, even though her appearance pits her against government colleagues who support oil exploration.

Ms Henderson, who is defending her seat on a paper-thin 0.03 per cent margin, insists she is committed to coastal preservation but clearly regarded her attendance at the protest as crucial to holding her seat.

“Our natural environment including our pristine oceans is something Sarah will always stand for and always fight for,” her spokeswoman says.

Labor’s Corangamite candidate Libby Coker stresses she is committed to coastal protection although she did not accept an invitation to attend the Torquay protest.

Andrew Cherubin, president of Torquay residents group 3228, says Corangamite voters fear a repeat of the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico nine years ago.

“The new younger generation can see what’s going on and they can see that it’s their future and they’re scared,” he says.

Full story: “Coastal campaigners look to ride big wave of worry over gas, oil plans”, The Age, 26 April

Equinor slammed again in Australia

Source: newsinenglish.no

Norway’s state oil company Equinor is being accused of making a “sham” out of the public feedback process over its highly controversial oil drilling plans in the rough and deep seas off Australia’s southern coast. It only responded to 13 of around 32,000 public comments in its draft plan for the Great Australian Bight, and is pushing ahead with its drilling project despite loud public resistance.

Norway’s state oil company Equinor, until recently known as Statoil, continues to upset many Australians and fully 17 town councils over its plans to drill for oil in The Great Australian Bight. The Bight is a protected marine area off Australia’s southern coast, which also seems to put the Norwegian company’s plans on a collision course with the Norwegian government’s international campaign to save the world’s seas. PHOTO: Wikipedia

Norway’s state oil company Equinor, until recently known as Statoil, continues to upset many Australians and fully 17 town councils over its plans to drill for oil in The Great Australian Bight. The Bight is a protected marine area off Australia’s southern coast, which also seems to put the Norwegian company’s plans on a collision course with the Norwegian government’s international campaign to save the world’s seas. PHOTO: Wikipedia

Norway’s state oil company Equinor, until recently known as Statoil, continues to upset many Australians and fully 17 town councils over its plans to drill for oil in The Great Australian Bight. The Bight is a protected marine area off Australia’s southern coast, which also seems to put the Norwegian company’s plans on a collision course with the Norwegian government’s international campaign to save the world’s seas. PHOTO: Wikipedia

“Norwegian oil giant Equinor could not be more contemptuous of the Australian people,” claims Peter Owen, director of the Wilderness Society (for) for South Australia. “Equinor lodged its Environment Plan on the last day it could to avoid a government-regulated public feedback process. Instead it ran its own sham feedback process and has dismissed almost all concerns in 30,000 unique submissions in just five weeks.”

Equinor acknowledges there were actually around 32,000 submissions. Enviromental activists have also mounted more than 10,000 demonstrations from Western Australia to Queensland in the east just in the past month. They claim that only 20 percent of Australians support offshore oil drilling, while two-thirds of Australians want the waters of the Bight to be listed as a UN World Heritage site.

Those protesting Equinor’s exploration plans in the Bight seem most upset that the Stavanger- and Oslo-based company, which changed its name from Statoil last year, had publicly promised that it would “not push through resistance” to its plans. They now view Equinor as pushing through indeed, contending that the company is all but ignoring what Owen calls “one of the biggest environmental protests Australia has ever seen.”

Equinor downplays the protests
Equinor officials defend their public hearing and comment process, which ran from February 20 to March 20. “We received a lot of comments, around 32,000,” acknowledged Jone Strangeland, who leads Equinor’s operations in Australia, to newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN) on Thursday. “That sounds like a lot, but if you look at other projects in Australia, it’s not unusually large.”

Strangeland told DN that after going through all the comments, Equinor determined that around 1,000 were “relevant.” He noted that “there was a lot of sharing of photos and abusive language. There were slogans like ‘Equinor out of Australia,’ and ‘Stop oil and gas,’ and some of the comments could have come from the same people several times.”

He and his colleagues therefore dismissed such “abuse.” Of the roughly 1,000 comments deemed “relevant,” many were determined to already have been addressed. The company thus decided that only 13 “concrete changes” to Equinor’s environmental impact statement for its planned drilling in the Bight were needed.

Insists Equinor ‘is listening’
Camilla Aamodt, in charge of oil and gas exploration for Equinor off both Australia and New Zealand, has earlier denied Equinor is “pressing itself” upon the Australian people or that its request for public feedback was a sham. She wrote in a commentary published in Oslo newspaper Dagsavisen earlier this month that “we have been traveling around South Australia and listening to those who live there.” Equinor hosted public meetings, she wrote, “to offer correct information,” and she and her colleagues learned “there are various points of view out there, also supporting our project. Many hope for more jobs and more activity in the area, and we have presented an environmental plan of high quality, just as the Australian authorities and local regulations demand of us.”

Aamodt was reacting in her column to an earlier editorial in Dagsavisen that suggested it was “embarrassing to be a Norwegian in Australia” right now. “Most of us have enough antennae to know when we’re not wanted,” wrote debate editor Bente R Gravklev in Dagsavisen. “Even if we think we have something to offer, we understand the signals and leave.” The former Statoil, she noted, appeared humble when it first picked up signs of oil in the Bight, with the company claiming they’d only drill if that was wanted. “Maybe it’s the scent of oil that’s triggered greed, or numbed senses enough that now (Equinor) is defying the negative signals and sticking around. Or maybe the humility was an act.”

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund * Full story here

Investors ally with green groups over Bight oil drilling

Source: Australian Financial Review

Controversial frontier exploration planned far off the South Australian coast looks certain to come under even closer scrutiny after the Norwegian oil and gas producer leading the drilling lodged a formal submission for approval just as it beefed up its commitment to align with Paris climate goals.

After engaging with Climate Action 100+, the pressure group of investors that prompted Glencore to commit in February to capping its coal production, Equinor agreed to "stress test" its portfolio against the goals of the Paris accord, including new material capex investments, and to explain how exploration is handled in that context.

The company, known as Statoil until 2018, also pledged to review membership of industry associations to ensure its participation doesn't undermine its support for emissions reductions to limit global warming. The review is understood to include the Australian Petroleum Production & Exploration Association.

The pledges came just as Equinor has applied to Australia's National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority for approval to drill the Stromlo-1 exploration well in the Great Australian Bight, an exploit expected to cost more than $100 million that is strongly opposed by environmental groups. Equinor has pursued the project even after former partner BP walked away.

Equinor's 1500-page draft environment plan for the drilling, due to take place by April 2021, attracted more than 31,000 submissions, mostly in opposition. Iron ore billionaire Andrew Forrest is among opponents, as are surfing champions Stephanie Gilmore and Mick Fanning.

The Stromlo-1 well will be drilled 400 kilometres off South Australia at a cost expected to top $100 million. It will target a large oil find that could help arrest Australia's declining self-sufficiency in oil but the plan has raised fears about widespread pollution along the southern coast in the case of a spill.

Equinor's strengthened commitments on climate change are now drawing more attention to the plan from global investors, in addition to environmental groups.

Anne Simpson, a member of the Climate Action 100+ global steering committee and the director of board governance and strategy at huge US pension fund CalPERS,  said the fund looks forward "to Equinor setting out their plans for addressing its impact on regional sites to ensure protection of ecologically sensitive areas such as those in Australia".

See the Full article by Angela Macdonald-Smith, AFR Senior Resources Writer

Lib MP joins protest against oil drilling in Great Australian Bight, defying colleagues

Source: The Age

Liberal MP Sarah Henderson, who is defending her ultra-marginal Victorian seat, has defied her government colleagues over controversial plans to drill for oil in the Great Australian Bight.

The Corangamite MP joined protesters at the weekend who were calling for an end to the proposed drilling project in South Australian waters.

Surfers attend the 'Fight for the Bight' protest in Torquay. Credit:Adam Snow

With the drilling plans emerging as a major national environmental flashpoint, Ms Henderson has placed herself firmly at odds with her own colleagues who are keen to see exploration for oil proceed in the Great Australian Bight.

The MP, whose Corangamite electorate sits on a paper-thin margin of just 0.03 per cent, was among a crowd organisers estimated as being in the thousands who gathered on Saturday on the beach at Torquay in her electorate south-west of Melbourne.

Ms Henderson’s spokeswoman said she was invited to attend the protest by the Surfrider Foundation.

“She shares her local community’s concerns about the project. Our natural environment including our pristine oceans is something Sarah will always stand for and always fight for,” the spokeswoman said.

Liberal MP Sarah Henderson in her electorate in March this year.Credit:Luis Enrique Ascui

Several attendees confirmed seeing Ms Henderson at the rally, although she did not address the crowd.

Her office confirmed there was no official government position on the project and the minister responsible does not have discretion to overrule the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority.

Less than a month from the federal election, Ms Henderson’s apparent opposition to the oil drilling project puts her at odds with Resources Minister Matt Canavan who has previously said offshore oil exploration should be encouraged in the bight.

Mr Canavan’s office confirmed he still supports the current process for oil exploration in the bight. He has previously dismissed opponents of the oil drilling project.

Full article by Benjamin Preiss in The Age

Drilling The Bight Could Have Devastating Environment Impacts

 Source: The Project
Norwegian Energy company Equinor wants to drill for oil and gas in the middle of the Great Australian Bight. Its set up a growing fight between the drilling giant on one side, and surfers, environmentalists and fishermen. 

Local action at Byron Bay

Digby Moran, Bundjalung artist and Michael Legge-Wilkinson are raising money for the Fight for the Bight campaign. Photo supplied.

Digby Moran, Bundjalung artist and Michael Legge-Wilkinson are raising money for the Fight for the Bight campaign. Photo supplied.

Taking action locally are some of Australia’s best surf artists, including Michael Legge-Wilkinson, Bundjalung artist Digby Moran, Otis Cary, Ozzie Wright, and Annabelle Thomas, are are coming together to exhibit in support of Fight for the Bight. ‘Being surfers as well as artists, we have an intimate relationship with the ocean and will do everything in our power to stop Equinor or anyone else drilling for oil in the Great Australian Bight and putting our great southern ocean, beaches and waves at risk,’ said Michael Legge-Wilkinson.

The exhibition opens this Friday April 5 at the Kokomo Gallery, 121 Jonson Street, Byron Bay. Doors open at 5pm with Welcome to Country at 8pm. The exhibition will run for two weeks.

Warrnambool City council has voted to support the 'Fight the Bight' campaign

Source: The Standard (Warrnambool)

Warrnambool City council has voted to support the 'Fight the Bight' campaign and condemn oil and gas drilling.

Councillors voted unanimously at Monday's meeting to support David Owen's notice of motion against exploration in the Great Australian Bight

Cr Owen said the council was the 16th Australian and the fourth Victorian council, joining Moyne and Corangamite shires, to lodge its opposition.

Norwegian company Equinor has an exploratory drilling permit for the Great Australian Bight, but has not commenced work.

Cr Owen said the council could not allow the bight to be put at risk by an accident such as the Deepwater Horizon oil spill that discharged five million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico in 2010.

Rachael Houlihan, April 2, 5pm

"The impacts would devastate marine life, fisheries and coastal communities and would seriously tarnish the pristine image of the Australian Southern Ocean and beaches," he said.

Equinor takes on board more than 30,000 entries

Source: Port Lincoln Times
Equinor is in the process of updating its Environmental Plan for its proposed exploration drilling program in the Great Australian Bight after receiving thousands of public responses.

The company put the draft plan for its Stromlo-1 exploration well out for public comment for 30 days, which allowed people to provide input and highlight areas of improvement.

The public comment period closed on March 20 with Equinor receiving more than 30,000 entries.

Twiggy Forrest opposes drilling in the Bight

Source: The KI Islander
WA mining magnate and Kangaroo Island land owner Andrew "Twiggy" Forrest is opposing plans by Norwegian oil company Equinor to drill an exploration well in the Great Australian Bight.

Mr Forrest's Minderoo Foundation released a statement last week listing its concerns about oil exploration in the Bight.

Drilling for oil in the Great Australian Bight presents an unacceptable risk to an irreplaceable ecosystem, according to Minderoo Foundation's Flourishing Oceans initiative.

Flourishing Oceans chief executive Brigitte Smith said the Great Australian Bight was a globally significant marine reserve set aside to protect important marine species, many of which are only found in these waters.

Due to the significance of this environment, proposed exploration drilling in the Bight should not go ahead, she said.

"The Great Australian Bight is a pristine marine park home to unique and sensitive marine ecosystems," Ms Smith said.

"For example, the Bight contains the majority of the endemic and threatened Australian sea lion population and is the primary calving ground for Southern Right whales."

More than 100 KI residents attended an action on the beach at Vivonne Bay last weekend. See: 'Bight Back' beach action at Kangaroo Island

The big issue surfers are taking a stand against

Source: News.com

When professionals like Mick Fanning speak up, people take notice.

But in this case he didn’t really have to — thousands of people have filled beaches and oceans across the country in recent weeks of their own accord, fighting a plan that affects not only an Australian icon but our whole coastline.

They’re protesting Norwegian energy company Equinor’s plans to drill for oil in a protected marine park within the Great Australian Bight.

Paddle-out protests have been happening at beaches across the country, from Torquay in Victoria to Burleigh Heads on the Gold Coast and Newcastle in New South Wales.

Another is planned for St Kilda this Sunday, and more are planned for Adelaide, Perth, Hobart, and Sydney in coming weeks.

Storer seeks two-step drilling review

Source: Port Lincoln Times

Independent Senator Tim Storer visited Port Lincoln on Wednesday to garner support from locals for his bill that would introduce a compulsory higher level of consideration for drilling proposals in the Great Australian Bight. 

Mr Storer said as an independent senator, he cannot bring the bill to the floor for debate, and was now seeking support from the opposition to bring it forward for a potential vote into legislation. 

"The nature of the proposal is to drill 2,250 metres deep," he said. 

"Therefore I welcome the NOPSEMA technical expertise, but I thought there should be a two stage process....looking at serious or irreversible environment damage, community concerns, and ecological sustainable development."

Mr Storer said these aspects were covered in the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, but doesn't apply for the decision on drilling, which his amendment bill looks to rectify. 

"An idea I had for legislation was for a higher level of consideration, which already exists under the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Act....but doesn't apply for these decisions," he said. 

The bill would retain the initial NOPSEMA review, but if NOPSEMA approves an action in the Bight, then the act's second review process would "kick-in".

Unite the Bight campaign brings award-winning film to Victor Harbor


Source: Victor Harbor Times

South Coast environmentalists have taken great strides in protecting the Great Australian Bight (GAB) from oil drilling in the past year, forcing the exits of oil giants BP and Chevron – but the fight is not over yet.

Read the full article in The Times here

Port Lincoln shows support for Unite the Bight


Source: Port Lincoln Times

The Great Australian Bight Alliance has received plenty of support from the Port Lincoln community as it plans to get its message across on the steps of Parliament House later this month.

More than 300 people attended a free music festival at Beer Garden Brewing on Sunday, one of a series of Unite the Bight events held at coastal communities across the state.

Read the full Port Lincoln Times article here

Port Lincoln Unite the Bight.jpg