THE LACK of regulation of the CSG industry could be compared to the US sub-prime mortgage disaster, said visiting environmental engineer Dr Gavin Mudd yesterday in a lecture at Southern Cross University.
The Monash University groundwater expert said there was a lack of hard data on the impact of CSG and a reliance on theory by mining companies that didn't take into account the complex environmental issues involved.
"A lot of the claims are based on assumptions and there isn't the data to back them up," he said.
This was leading to industry and government abandoning the precautionary principle of good environmental management.
Particularly at risk were Australia's vital groundwater reserves.
"It's not what you see on the surface, it's what's happening with the entire system ... the area impacted by groundwater is magnitudes more than a little piece of infrastructure on the surface," said Dr Mudd.
"Some of the processes that take place around groundwater ... can take 50 years or more before we understand the problems."
Dr Mudd called into question the notion that CSG and farming could co-exist and said industry and government still saw the CSG debate as a PR war rather than a scientific discussion.
The lecture came ahead of groundbreaking findings to be revealed on Wednesday by SCU researchers Dr Isaac Santos and Dr Damien Maher about high methane concentrations in the air in CSG mining regions in Queensland.
"We believe universities are independent institutions that should provide hard data to inform this discussion," said Dr Santos.