The Federal Environment Minister has again delayed the assessment of flora and fauna species’ threat status in a move that could determine the survival of these species, including the Australian Sea Lion, the Greens say.
The Environment Department’s website was quietly updated this week to show Minister Sussan Ley has granted extensions to 36 species currently being assessed for listing under the EPBC Act.
“This is an extremely critical time for the Sea Lion which is facing the enormous threat posed by Equinor which plans to drill for oil in its habitat, the Great Australian Bight,” Greens Spokesperson for the Environment and Senator for South Australia, Sarah Hanson-Young said.
“Equinor’s Environmental Plan is currently before NOPSEMA for assessment and the regulator is required to consider the presence of listed species in the proposed drilling site.
“A listing change for the Sea Lion from ‘Vulnerable’ to ‘Endangered’ could significantly affect the assessment so the fact the Minister has deferred it again is very concerning.
“I think a lot of people will be asking whether this is a move designed to limit the emphasis placed on the Sea Lion while this proposal from Big Oil is being considered.”
Senator Hanson-Young said when a species is listed under the EPBC Act a ‘Recovery Plan’, or at the very least ‘Conservation Advice’, will be provided which could make all the difference to that species’ survival.
“We are in the middle of an extinction crisis and yet once again we have an Environment Minister failing to ensure the protection of threatened species,” she said.
“If a species isn’t listed at all under the EPBC Act then it won’t even be referred to in an environmental assessment for a project like a new coal mine or oil and gas exploration - how convenient for the Liberal Party’s political donors in the fossil fuel industry.
“Minister Ley has some explaining to do because the future of our threatened flora and fauna is in her hands.”