The green light to killing marine life

Stephanie Tian, Staff Writer

In late 2021, fossil fuel giant Woodside Petroleum proposed its new drilling plan, Scarborough Gas. This plan proposed a $12 billion investment in Australia’s Scott Reef, drilling up to 54 oil wells and constructing a pipeline spanning 430 kilometers. Scarborough is set to be the most significant gas drilling project in a decade and will become yet another environmentally harmful project for the gain of greedy fossil fuel developers.

Scott Reef is home to diverse marine life, housing hundreds of coral, fish, turtles, whales, and sharks. One of the biggest concerns regarding the Scarborough project, hundreds of thousands of marine animals will suffer its impact. Humpback whales and giant Green Turtles housed in Scott Reef are already considered endangered, and this won’t help the already dwindling species. Scarborough gas is only one part of a larger Woodside project, Burrup Hub. It outlines another giant gas field to be constructed in Browse, an Australian offshore basin, doubling the pollution to be brought onto Australia’s coastal life.

People, not just marine life, will be harmed by the construction of Scarborough. Just the Scott Reef construction alone can bring intense physical harm to the communities living around its construction sites. Many of the proposed LNG (Liquified Natural Gas) plans have been proven to be very harmful air polluters (volatile organic compound pollutants). These have been linked to side effects such as fatigue, nausea, skin irritation, shortness of breath, and dizziness, along with severe conditions such as heart disease and lung, liver, kidney cancer, even at low levels of exposure. The construction of Woodside’s projects will put its community at unnecessary risk and kill a dangerous amount of its ecosystem.

Woodside doesn’t have a trustworthy record either. They claim to be “part of a better future,” stating, “A better tomorrow needs action today, so we’re delivering energy that’s cleaner, cheaper and reliable”, but their track record says something entirely different. According to Say No To Scarborough Gas, Woodside hid a large oil spill for months, tried abandoning 400 tons of plastic on the seafloor, and called it an ‘artificial reef’. The Australian government even paid them $200 million to clean up their operations. Woodside counters that Scarborough will bring opportunity to its community because it creates many new jobs for Australians, from construction to oil operation. 

However, their past treatment of workers shows that Woodside’s employee treatment is questionable. In March of 2020, they stood down 900 employees without pay and fired hundreds in the following months while Woodside’s CEO pocketed $2.2 million. They seem to have little regard for the environment, but they seem to have little concern for their workers. Their claims and actions don’t add up, making Woodside far too untrustworthy for a project as polluting and environmentally draining as Scarborough.

Since the proposal, many environmental activists and organizations have come together to prevent the implementation of Scarborough gas. Organizations such as CleanState and Greenpeace have gathered thousands of signatures and sent emails to numerous members of the Australian parliament. As the months progressed, more activists tried to end Woodside’s dangerously costly project. Although this has sparked outrage globally, Woodside has won much-needed court support. The CCWA (Conservation Council of Western Australia), a collection of organizations tackling critically harmful environmental challenges, lost a case where they challenged Pluto LNG facilities, one of the facilities included in Woodside’s Scarborough project, for their harmful pollutants. Another environmental body lost its case to overturn government approval for the Burrup Hub. Woodside now has the full “green light” to bring billions of tons of carbon pollution into the environment.

How can we help? Linked below are petitions, articles and donation sites. Although there isn’t much we can actively do from across the world, Woodside won’t profit if they don’t have active investors and guaranteed buyers. According to the World Resource Institute, 75% of the world’s reefs are in danger. Scott Reef and the Scarborough project are only a few of the many yet to come. As climate change continues to worsen, the damages will be irreversible if we don’t take action and tackle these harmful environmental factors.


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