THE Greens are calling for a five-year moratorium on further coal seam gas approvals while a scientific advisory committee undertakes research into its impacts.
Greens Deputy Leader Adam Bandt plans to move an amendment to a bill that will establish an independent expert scientific committee on coal seam gas and large coal mining development.
The committee will operate as a statutory authority to provide federal, state and territory governments with scientific advice on coal seam gas and large coal mining developments which may have significant impacts on water resources.
While welcoming the establishment of the committee, Mr Bandt said the proposals before the parliament did not "go far enough".
Greens mining spokeswoman Senator Larissa Waters said a five-year moratorium on CSG exploration was needed "until we know whether it is safe for our land, our water, our climate, our reef and our communities".
"The Greens have twice moved in the Senate for a moratorium on coal seam gas," Senator Waters said.
"Each time, all the other parties have ignored the legitimate concerns of the community and water experts like the CSIRO and National Water Commission, and have voted against a moratorium and in favour of CSG mining giants continuing to ride roughshod over farmers and rural communities.
"The establishment of this new committee is an acknowledgement that we need far more science to understand the real impacts of coal seam gas, but it is foolhardy to keep issuing approvals before we have the full scientific picture before us - we need a five-year moratorium while that science is done."
Queensland independent MP Bob Katter has moved an amendment calling for a 12-month moratorium on aquifer drilling.Senator Waters described this as a "welcome step", but added "one year is not enough".
Opposition frontbencher Ian Macfarlane last week moved a motion that would ensure committee members had scientific qualifications and expertise in at least one of the following fields: geology, hydrology, hydrogeology or ecology.
Senator Waters said the Greens would not be supporting Mr Macfarlane's amendment.
"The bill already contains clauses which establish that the expertise of committee members must be relevant, and because Mr Macfarlane's list omitted ecologists, hydro-ecologists and other relevant experts," she said.
"The clauses of the bill as written are broad enough to include the appointment of experts in geology, hydrology and other relevant fields without allocating half the committee to the fields of expertise Mr Macfarlane suggests at the expense of other relevant fields.
"Senator Waters has two bills before the Senate relating to CSG mining - one to give farmers the right to "lock the gate against coal seam gas", and the other to empower the environment minister to make decisions about water.