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The silent majority: why CBM supporters want their say

World Coal,

A community group, supportive of gas extraction from coal seams in the north west of New South Wales (NSW), Australia, says it's time the “silent majority” is heard.

The ‘Yes 2 Gas’ project aims to give a voice to members of the Narrabri community who support Santos’s extraction of coalbed methane (CBM). The community group believes the activity is providing employment opportunities and economic growth.

The group has funded a number of large newspaper advertisements featuring local people offering their support for the CBM industry.

Spokesperson for Yes 2 Gas, Louise Tout, says the Narrabri Gas Project is developing a vital second industry in a region traditionally reliant on agriculture.

Tout is convinced the project has lifted the local economy despite ongoing drought. She says the group hopes to promote the positives that come from mining activity in the region.

"We need a demonstration that not everyone in the community is against the Pilliga project. There's a lot of local farmers, local businesses, families, individuals that all want to see the project go ahead," she said.

"This is 100% local and 100% independent but there's no denying I talk to Santos all the time, we all do, it's about having an ongoing conversation with them,” She continued. "It's about a balanced debate and just contributing to a conversation and showing that there's two sides to it all, there's nothing wrong with standing up and having a different opinion because that's what being Australian is all about."

Tout said Santos is not funding the group and the large newspaper ads are being paid for by businesses who support the CBM industry in the area.

She said the project is about having an equal debate and making sure that those who support the CBM industry are not victimised or ostracised for their beliefs.

Previous reports into the media’s representation have shown it to be polarised, while there is also evidence that both supporters of CBM and opponents of it have spread misinformation due to a lack of available reliable data. 

Edited from various sources by Sam Dodson

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