05/17/2010 - As the US faces a crude oil disaster and Australia investigates its own massive oil spill, the federal government has opened a series of proposed marine reserves to new petroleum exploration.
Conservation groups and local residents are outraged by Resources Minister Martin Ferguson's announcement of 31 new exploration leases along Australia's coast.
Mr Ferguson, who was at the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Associations (APPEA) annual conference in Brisbane on Monday, said the leases included five prospective oil and gas basins varying in size.
"Our energy security will be greatly enhanced by the opening up of new geological frontiers, reducing our dependence on imports," he said.
Michelle Grady from Pew Environment said the Australian government should put a freeze on future exploration until environmental assessments are complete.
"They won't be available as marine sanctuaries (after exploration) because no government will relinquish rights to the petroleum industry once they're in place," she told AAP.
Read the full article, Govt Opens New Oil Leases Along Coast, on the Sydney Morning Herald's Web site.