The federal government's proposed new 'green tape' agreements with the states will lead to the abandonment of environmental protection, Australian Greens Leader Christine Milne says.
Environment Minister Tony Burke on Friday released for comment a draft framework of standards to be met by states and territories under a proposed single environmental assessment and approval process for major projects to come into force by March 2013.
Mr Burke said it was about lifting the states up to the level of environmental protection provided by the commonwealth while streamlining an overly complex process.
But Senator Milne told AAP the proposed change signalled an abandonment of environmental responsibility.
'For streamlining read fast-tracking, for devolving powers to the states read abandoning environmental protection.'
Senator Milne said Prime Minister Julia Gillard had been dictated to by the Business Council of Australia about what to do in terms of the environment.
'Far from pulling the states up to the high standards of the commonwealth, which is what the minister (Burke) argues, what he is doing is pushing the standards down to the standard of the states.'
Senator Milne said it was based on the same kind of bilateral framework as the regional forest agreements that had been a 'disaster' over the last 15 years.
She said handing over environmental responsibility to the states would not see Queensland Premier Campbell Newman invest in the bureaucracy and infrastructure needed to properly assess projects for their environmental impact.
'Campbell Newman only last week turned off restrictions that were preventing development in flood-prone areas and in areas that are environmentally sensitive along the coast.'
Senator Milne also said West Australian Premier Colin Barnett was doing everything in his power to fast-track development and 'wipe environmental regulation off the books'.
'This is actually taking Australia back to the 1970s and this is disowning, for the Labor Party, Bob Hawke's legacy of getting the commonwealth involved in oversight of major projects, oversight of world heritage areas, areas of high conservation value.
'This is abandoning that to state governments ... It's a sellout of what the community's expectations are of the commonwealth,' Senator Milne said.
Greens Senator Larissa Waters said the only area the federal government said it would keep control over was approval for uranium mines 'so they could export it to India as quickly as possible'.