A row is brewing between the Federal and New South Wales governments over the exploration and exploitation of coal seam gas in urban and regional centres.

The Federal Government has given New South Wales Premier Barry O'Farrell a week to explain how he plans to address community concerns over the issue.

Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke is demanding New South Wales reconsider its policy and has intimated he may intervene.

But he admits he is not sure how much power he has to impose stricter standards.

Federal independent MP Tony Windsor extracted a deal for environmental research into the effects of coal seam gas mining in return for supporting Labor's mining tax.

Now he says New South Wales has "played games with that and put up some Mickey Mouse protocols".

Mr Windsor says it is time the Commonwealth stepped in to restore community confidence, with stricter assessments of projects which are proliferating in New South Wales, including in his own seat of New England.

"People are frightened of the process that's there, because they think government is in the pocket of the companies riding rough-shod over community," he said.

"I'll be opting for a form of adjustment to the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act which uses water as to actually trigger Commonwealth involvement."

Now Mr Burke has written to Mr O'Farrell asking him to urgently reconsider "the appropriateness" and "impacts" of coal seam gas projects on urban and regional communities.

"Even in the suburbs of Sydney there are proposals here," he said.

"Now not all of these breach national environmental law. You don't find that many endangered species in and around Tempe in Sydney.

"But the level of concern about this is fever pitch."

Independent assessments

Mr Burke is concerned about approvals being issued based on only limited information.

"We have said we'll fund the independent scientific work so it's being done independently, it's not being done by the companies," he said.

"And for other states, Queensland, Victoria, South Australia, they've agreed to fully incorporate that information into their process.

"New South Wales hasn't. I don't know why they haven't."

Mr Burke has asked the Premier to write back within a week stating his Government's intention.

New South Wales Resources Minister Chris Hartcher insists his state has the toughest CSG regulations in the country.

He says the New South Wales Government was advised agreement on the proposed protocols had been reached with federal agencies, and has accused Mr Burke and Mr Windsor of "playing politics".

Mr Hartcher says the only explanation is the looming federal election.

Mr Windsor expects Commonwealth intervention would delay some projects, though he is not sure for how long.

"It could be six months to a year; maybe even longer in terms of some particular areas," he said.