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Oil and gas industry backs Environmental Defenders Office funding cuts

According to Australian Energy Producers said federal or state taxpayers shouldn't fund the Environmental Defenders Office. Image: Gajus/stock.adobe.com.

Australia’s oil and gas industry has backed growing moves across the country to cut taxpayer funding to the activist group following a scathing assessment of its conduct by the Federal Court.

Australian Energy Producers said it was “ridiculous” for federal or state taxpayers to fund the Environmental Defenders Office (EDO) after its recent “unprofessional” behaviour was exposed.

Rejecting its case against the Santos-operated Barossa gas project, the Federal Court found that evidence and claims were “confection” or “construction” and were “so lacking in integrity that no weight can be placed on them”.

The Australian Government is funding the EDO under a four-year grant for $2 million a year, from 2023 to 2026.

Australian Energy Producers chief executive Samantha McCulloch said the Federal Coalition’s pledge today to cut EDO funding if it won the next election was in the public interest.

“The taxpayer-funded environmental lawfare must end,” McCulloch said.

“Taxpayers have been effectively bankrolling a group that uses the courts to delay energy supplies that are urgently needed both here in Australia and in our region to support energy security and the transition to net zero.”

According to her, Australia’s economic and energy security “cannot be held hostage by such irresponsible actors”.

“The EDO receives millions of dollars of international funding to delay and disrupt projects that are in Australia’s national interest,” McCulloch said.

“It is inconceivable that Australian governments would give them a further helping hand to damage our economy.”

The Northern Territory Labor Government this week also pledged to review its $100,000 annual funding to the EDO in the wake of the court decision.

The WA Liberals have also promised to cease state funding of the EDO – worth $150,000 this year – if the party wins the next election.

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