Palmer calls for 'breather' in coal seam gas expansion

Businessman Clive Palmer has called for a pause on new coal seam gas developments, despite one of his businesses relying on the controversial form of energy for many years.

Businessman Clive Palmer has called for a pause on new coal seam gas developments, despite one of his businesses relying on the controversial form of energy for many years.

Now also a political aspirant, Mr Palmer issued a statement on Thursday urging the coal seam gas industry to slow down until more was known about its impact on people and the environment. "Let's take a breather," he said. "Lives are a lot more important than the extraction of coal seam gas."

NSW Chief Scientist Mary O'Kane released a report this week that found coal seam gas drilling could pose health and environmental challenges and required more research.

Mr Palmer is running for Federal Parliament under the banner of the Palmer United Party, and his comments are likely to be a pitch to rural voters in NSW who are concerned Queensland's coal seam gas boom could repeated in their regions.

"This report raises serious questions about human health, the effects on the environment and water in particular, landholders' legal rights and industry regulation and compliance," Mr Palmer said.

"All governments and companies involved should put their personal interests on hold and support a thorough investigation into these concerns."

But Mr Palmer's comments appear to be at odds with some of his businesses , most notably at his nickel refinery near Townsville.

The refinery has used coal seam gas for power since BHP Billiton owned it about 2006, and its reliance on the gas has increased under Mr Palmer's ownership.

In a statement last September, Mr Palmer's company announced a roaster at the refinery would be converted from fuel oil to coal seam gas to reduce the refinery's carbon footprint, reduce energy costs and improve its nickel recoveries.

When asked how his call for the industry to "take a breather" sat with his company's use of coal seam gas, Mr Palmer said the comparisons were irrelevant.

"It's to do with coal seam gas development, that's an already developed area," he said.

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