Leaked documents revealed by the September 23 Sydney Morning Herald show large coal companies colluded to begin coal-seam gas mining under Sydney’s drinking water catchment. The documents show gas-drilling company Apex Energy NL agreed to help Peabody Energy distance itself from bad publicity arising out of a proposal to begin coal-seam gas mining at the Metropolitan Colliery. Apex was to expand the colliery without mentioning the coal-seam gas aspect of the expansion, which had the potential to contaminate water supplies.
Local climate action group Safe Climate has planned a campaign calling on the Western Australian government to reverse approval for five new and refurbished coal-fired power stations. The campaign will include: an ambitious goal to get 10,000 signatures on a petition opposing the new coal developments before the end of the year; a poster design campaign; and a rally in December. Safe Climate is also discussing possible civil disobedience actions. The campaign will be launched at an October 10 action, as part of the 350.org 10/10/10 Global Work Party day of action.
After a record high vote for the Greens in the August 21 federal election, it did not take long for the corporate media to get its claws out. In particular, Rupert Murdoch-owned News Ltd’s flagship newspaper The Australian has been called out for its string of critical stories and headlines targeting the Greens. In a September 9 editorial, the paper responded to Greens Senator Bob Brown's criticism that the paper was openly attacking the Greens-Labor deal, saying the Greens “are bad for the nation; and ... should be destroyed at the ballot box”.
Five families are suing Xstrata, the Queensland government and the Mt Isa council over alleged lead contamination. As part of their case, they commissioned US neuroscientist Theodore Lidsky to examine brain tests on Mt Isa children. His report found some Mt Isa children had brain damage from long-term exposure to lead, the families’ lawyer, Damian Scattini, told ABC News on September 17.
Coal rules. That was the message delivered last week by the new Labor government. Freshly appointed climate change minister Greg Combet began his ministership by telling the September 13 Australian: “The coal industry is a very vibrant industry with a strong future. What you've got to do is look to how we can achieve in the longer term things like carbon capture and storage for coal-fired power stations.”
On October 10, climate activists will converge on the Hazelwood power station in the Latrobe Valley in eastern Victoria. They will use mirrors to try to create Victoria's “first solar thermal power” station at the Hazelwood gate, to show solar is a viable alternative. Shaun Murray from campaign group Switch off Hazelwood told Green Left Weekly: “Hazelwood is the most carbon-intensive power station in Australia relative to its output, and has been an ongoing target by climate campaigners.”
Thankfully, no lives were lost in the September 5 earthquake that hit the city of Christchurch, New Zealand. But it has caused vast damage, up to half the buildings in the region need repairing. As I watched the evening news report about the disaster, I was struck by a comment a local resident made to reporters. Half jokingly, he said the good news was that the rebuilding effort would help pull New Zealand out of recession.
Safe Climate Perth has called a strategy meeting to plan a grassroots campaign against the new coal-fired power stations approved by the state Liberal government. The campaign will also take up other proposed developments such as a suggested new coal mine at Margaret River, which has already sparked a dynamic community campaign. Safe Climate campaigner Kamala Emanuel told Green Left Weekly: “We are planning a campaign that can win. “The first step to getting to a safe climate future is to stop the increase in emissions of greenhouse pollution from new coal power stations.
More than 1000 people packed into Sydney Town Hall on August 12 for the Sydney launch of the Zero Carbon Australia (ZCA) Stationary Energy Plan. The plan outlines how Australia could meet all its energy needs from renewables within 10 years. The successful event followed the well-attended Melbourne launch, which attracted about 700 people in July. The plan is the product of a collaboration between the University of Melbourne Energy Research Institute and the non-profit climate advocacy group Beyond Zero Emissions (BZE).