anti-coal

Federal Treasurer Scott Morrison pulled out a lump of coal in parliament on February 9 and launched a rant in which he accused the opposition of “coal-o-phobia” and regurgitated PM Malcolm Turnbull's outrageous National Press Club speech urging more coal-fired power stations be built.

Morrison went wild while behind him other Liberals and Nationals joined in a pantomime by passing the lump of coal to each other.

Right-wing politicians have blown hard on the anti-renewables dog-whistle since February 8, when extreme temperatures in South Australia were followed by rolling electricity blackouts.

Late that afternoon, power demand in the state spiked to near-record levels. From about 6pm, 100 megawatts — roughly 3% of the state’s total demand — was shed for about half an hour.

“How can Shadow Minister for Renewables David Southwick continue to hold his title while opposing investment in wind and solar?” asked Friends of the Earth renewables campaigner Pat Simons after the Victorian Liberals declared they would abolish the state renewable energy target if elected.

Protesters gathered outside his Caulfield offices on February 14 with a banner reading “Shadow Minister against renewables” and also outside state Opposition leader Matthew Guy's office in Bulleen. 

The New South Wales state government has released changes to the state’s planning law which, if passed, will grant big mining companies more power and reduce communities and councils’ already limited rights of appeal.

The government says the changes to the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act (EP&A Act) 1979, released on January 9, are primarily about promoting “confidence” in the state’s planning system.

Speculation is increasing that the federal government will lend mining giant Adani half the $2.2 billion cost of a rail line to take coal from the proposed Carmichael coalmine in Queensland’s Galilee Basin to the Abbot Point coal terminal.

The money is likely to come from the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility. The $5 billion infrastructure fund has granted preliminary approval for the subsidy.

Supporters of the NSW Hunter Valley community of Wollar held simultaneous rallies in Sydney and Mudgee on November 29 against a coalmine expansion that threatens to wipe out the village. 

The NSW Planning Assessment Commission (PAC) is reviewing the proposal to extend the Wilpinjong coalmine. It held a public hearing about the project in Mudgee but Wollar residents and supporters boycotted it and protested instead. They said the process is stacked against them and the community’s legal rights have been taken away. 

Nearly 10,000 people attended two sold out Frack Off! concerts at Margaret River over the weekend of November 26–27, highlighting the growing opposition to unconventional gas across Western Australia.

The concerts included performances by John Butler Trio, Mama Kin, Pigram Brothers and Ten Cent Shooters.

There were speakers from the three regions threatened by unconventional gas — the South West, Mid West and Kimberley.

Queensland passed laws on November 10 that require miners to get a water licence to extract groundwater.

However environment minister Steven Miles moved a last minute amendment to remove objection rights to groundwater licences for the Adani Carmichael mine.

New Hope’s proposed Acland Stage 3 coal expansion and the Alpha and Kevin Corner coalmines will now need licences.

Farmers and communities will retain the right to object to the grant of those water licences.

A Senate inquiry has recommended the closure of all 24 coal-fired power stations in Australia over the next 10 years and the creation of a comprehensive energy transition plan to help with the ordered closure of the plants.

The Retirement of Coal Fired power Stations Inquiry report, which was tabled in the Senate on November 28, made four recommendations:

One outcome of last year's inquiry into the Morwell Mine fire in Victoria's Latrobe Valley was the discovery that the default plan for “rehabilitating” the mine would be to let it fill with water naturally, perhaps to become a recreational lake. The hitch: it would take more than a hundred years to fill naturally and the water quality would be terrible due to pollution from coal seams.

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