anti-coal

A group of 30 people held up construction of a second loader arm at Newcastle's third coal loader site on Kooragang Island on May 10, stopping a crane crew for about 90 minutes.

The protest coincided with what would have been Newcastle climate activist Pete Gray's 31st birthday. Gray sadly lost a two year long battle with cancer on April 30.

"This is the battle for the end of the fossil fuel industry. This is the end game," Lock the Gate Alliance campaigner Drew Hutton told a forum, titled, Australia's Gas Rush: The race to save our farmland and the Great Artesian Basin, on April 14 in Brisbane.

The forum, sponsored by Green Left Weekly, also heard from Ewan Saunders, climate campaigner and Socialist Alliance activist.

About 200 people protested outside Victorian government offices on April 11 against a proposed new gas-fired power station in Victoria. Five protesters locked themselves to a stepladder inside the building.

The company HRL is planning to build its power station in Victoria, and the state and federal governments have committed $150 million towards it.

The rally came at the end of the National Grassroots Climate Summit in Melbourne. The protest called for funding to be put toward renewable energy instead.

Campaigners won a stunning victory on March 21 when the WA Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) announced that there is “adequate information to demonstrate that Vasse Coal Management’s coalmining proposal is environmentally unacceptable”.

EPA Chairperson Paul Vogel said: “In effect, this is an EPA ‘no’ to the proposal.”

The proposed Vasse coalmine was to have been 15 kilometres from the popular tourist destination, Margaret River.

Internationally renowned as a wine-growing region, Margaret River is in the south-west of Western Australia.

Coal seam gas exploration is becoming a key political issue in NSW. The Labor and Liberal parties are pushing for a huge expansion in gas mining, including coal seam gas.

But farmers, regional communities and city-dwellers are becoming increasingly worried about the health and environmental consequences of the gas rush.

The NSW government recently approved energy company AGL’s bid to drill 90 coal seam gas wells and build a pipeline and processing centre near Gloucester, north of Sydney.

Many millions of tonnes of coal have been exported since activists dubbed the Rising Tide Seven temporarily shut down coal loaders in Newcastle in September last year.

They were convicted on January 31 of “remaining on enclosed lands”. Each was fined $300, plus $79 in court costs.

However, on March 3, they were vindicated when magistrate Elaine Truscott rejected the Port Waratah Coal Services’ (PWCS) $525,000 “compensation” claim.

The statement below was released by the Socialist Alliance on March 6.

* * *

The carbon price framework recently agreed to by the ALP and the Greens is a step in the wrong direction.

This is not because, as the Coalition says, the economy — read the profits of big business — cannot afford to cut emissions. It’s because the framework will be counterproductive to real action on climate change.

The highest prices now being discussed will simply stimulate a mass rollout of gas, extending Australia's commitment to fossil fuels at the expense of renewable energy.

The casual observer might easily conclude that there are just two clear sides in the parliamentary debate over the Labor/Greens carbon price deal.

But there is a lot more to the debate than this.

Clearly the Greens are in favour, and appear to have won over PM Julia Gillard’s government to an interim carbon tax.

On the other hand, opposition leader Tony Abbott has promised a Tea Party-style uprising against it. Abbott will push to rouse a fascistic “people’s” movement to try to bury the deal.

More than 80 people attended an at-times heated meeting on March 3 organised by Illawarra Residents for Responsible Mining (IRRM) in Russellvale, north of Wollongong.

The meeting was held across the road from the entrance of Gujarat NRE’s number 1 colliery.

This meeting doubled as a meet-the-candidates event for the NSW state elections and a question and answer session about Gujarat NRE’s plans to expand coal production. Representatives of the mine attended the meeting.

Below is the text of a speech by Pip Hinman, Socialist Alliance candidate for Marrickville in the NSW state elections, to the Newtown Neighbourhood Centre candidates meeting on February 23.

***

I’d like to first acknowledge that we’re meeting on the land of the Gadigal and Wangal people of the Eora nation, and I pay my respects to their elders past and present.

The two most important issues in this state election is to call a halt to the privatisations of our public assets and to immediately start a shift away from using polluting coal or gas for our energy needs.

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