AgForce has applied to the National Farmers Fighting Fund for money to underwrite a Federal court action to stop liquified carbon dioxide being injected into the Great Artesian Basin.
As it stands now, AgForce is underwriting the Federal Court action to stop the trial project by multinational mining company, Glencore, through its subsidiary CTSCo, which involves injecting CO2 waste from the Millmerran Power Station into the GAB near Moonie.
AgForce CEO Michael Guerin said underwriting the action means AgForce was prepared to put its "net balance sheet of $30 million" on the line which includes Belmont and Brian Pastures research stations, three other properties and a share portfolio.
But he said the organisation had put in an application to the NFF Fighting Fund for it to underwrite the court action, but did not know when that decision would be made.
By way of explanation, Mr Guerin said the approvals process for the Glencore project had been going on for a couple of years and was now with the state department of environment and science under the EIS (Environmental Impact Statement) process which was the last part of the approvals process.
"When you are at that part (of the process) there is no interference that can be provided by industry, community or even politicians," he said.
"While all indications are that the decision will be against Glencore, there's no guarantee of that and if the decision is in Glencore's favour the costs of injunctive relief for industry, for example, are significant and given the size of Glencore we probably couldn't handle it.
"So, we're in this position where we either sit on our hands and hope for the right outcome and every indication is, that it will be that outcome, but there's no guarantee, or we give ourselves some confidence and comfort by leaving no stone unturned to ensure that the decision is not made in Glencore's favour."
Mr Guerin said AgForce has chosen the later despite the fact there were elements of industry who "were keen to sit on their hands and hope for the right decision".
AgForce's court action in the Federal Court involves challenging a Federal decision of February 9, 2022, under the EPBC (Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation) Act. It will claim the decision "was flawed" because the National Environmental Significance provisions of the Act were "not adequately considered" in the instance of Glencore and the GAB.
Mr Guerin said "waters at risk" and activities around coal mining - were captured by the EPBC Act, but were not considered in the federal decision.
"If we can get the federal decision revoked then the state consideration will have to be put on hold while it's being considered under the EPBC Act," he said.
Mr Guerin said they had approached the federal environment minister, Tanya Plibersek, several times about the issues, directly and through the NFF, and had no direct response.
He said underwriting the action meant if no-one else comes forward to pay the legal bills then AgForce would pay them and that could be more than $1 million.
"Whether we actually pay the bill depends on whether we are able to raise money elsewhere and that's all for the next few months depending on how the campaign develops...the AgForce board agreed to pay all the bills if no-one else does," he said.
Mr Guerin said AgForce was prepared to put its entire balance sheet on the line and pay all the bills to ensure "this important action goes wherever it needs to go".
"We have a net balance sheet of $30 million," he said, "which included all the assets of AgForce".
Those assets include Belmont and Brian Pastures research stations, a property in the Burdekin, a commercial property in Toowoomba, a building in Brisbane and a share portfolio, he said.
Mr Guerin said members' reaction to AgForce putting "its entire balance sheet" on the line was so far "universally positive".
He said 17 members had already pledged $10,000 each and had paid the money into a fighting fund account.
"They believe that when we start the public fund raising amongst the broader membership...that we will get a large amount of money coming in, that people will be supportive of what we've done and the fact that we underwrote the action to allow it (the court action) to get underway," he said.