Coal, Ugas and Health News for June 2018

There continues to be an ongoing battle between advocacy to protect the health and wellbeing of the population and the fossil fuel industry.

Adani update and latest DEA submission

Despite ongoing public pressure, missed deadlines and lack of secure funding, Adani is pushing ahead with their plans to build Australia's largest coal mine in the Galilee Basin.

Their latest bid is to extract yet more water - from the Suttor River via the North Galilee Water Scheme - without a full environmental assessment. This water would potentially be used for other coal mines in the area, and the Suttor River feeds into the major river system going to the Great Barrier Reef. DEA put in a fine submission to have this project fully scrutinised both for its health and environmental impacts. The submission was led by Queensland member Lucy Jane-Watt, and you can read it here.

In other fronts, Adani's Abbott Point coal port is under pressure by Juru Traditional Owners to conduct urgent cultural assessments of sacred sites and may be ordered to stop work, after it was revealed that the group who initially conducted the assessments have been accused of serious financial mismanagement.

The coal price has gone up to the point that financial analysts have declared the mine still viable, and the federal Labor party continues to sit on the fence and is yet to publicly withdraw their support for the mine. Pressure on Labor politicians to publicly oppose the Adani mine continues to be a key part of many of the #StopAdani groups around Australia's approach. The best way to push this issue forward is to visit your federal Labor MP and take along a copy of DEA's Adani and Health factsheet to make it clear that this is a health issue.

There is still a way to go before we can be confident that the Galilee Basin coal will stay in the ground!

Rocky Hill coalmine case other Hunter news

There is ongoing debate regarding air quality and the cumulative impacts of mining. This has been highlighted in a recent article focusing on the impacts in Camberwell in the Hunter Valley. In the 1950’s there were approximately 200 families in the area and now there are only 20. Mining has destroyed the town. The question now is, will it survive at all?

August has been set down as the start of the court case of Gloucester Resources Limited (GRL) taking the Department of Planning and Environment to court over the department’s refusal of the proposed new Rocky Hill coalmine. This open cut mine is planned to be within 1 km of homes and within 5 km of 3000 residents.

DEA will present to the court and highlight the health issues that have been previously outlined in DEA’s submissions here and here as well as presentation to the PAC meeting. It is an extraordinarily important case. It is the first time that the government has had to defend its own decision against a coal company. It will set a precedent for future cases. It is also the first time the Environmental Defenders Office (EDO) will be working with the government to reject a coalmine.

Bev Smiles and her colleagues got a good outcome for the Wollar 3 arrest case in Mudgee Court on June 5 – no conviction with 12 months good behaviour bond for blocking a public road. However, the amendments to the Crimes Act still stand as a threat to future protest activity.

Unfortunately they lost our judicial review in the Land & Environment Court on June 19. More about the judgement can be found here.

Very good news for Wollar is the announcement of a large Wollar Solar Farm – out of left field. 

There will be no 4th coal loader in Newcastle!

Good news! The previously approved T4 coal loader will not go ahead in Newcastle. The coal industry continues to tell us that the coal exports will increase however the economics mean that the 4th coal loader will not be built in Newcastle. If you are in Newcastle on July 6 then come and have a celebratory drink!

Closure of Liddell

There is concern that there the environmental impacts of the ash dam will not be managed appropriately when Liddell closes. This has been a problem after closure of the Port Augusta coal fired power stations.

The Styx Mine in Queensland

This proposed coal mine has all the evils we fear. It drains into an estuary nearby and so is close to the Great Barrier Reef. It has great usage of groundwater in an agricultural region with droughts and floods, there is a significant health and safety risk to workers and to travellers on the Bruce Highway. It will add to Queensland’s contribution to climate change.

DEA has now made two submissions on the mine and the second requested that the Department of Environment and Science (DES) use its power under s.62 to publicly invite comment on the SEIS.

Big new coal and gas exploration leases in Queensland.

Queensland Minister for Mining, Lynham, who is a medical doctor, has doubled Queensland exploration acreage over what has been previously offered with the release of 43, for petroleum and gas exploration. He said "This is made up of 29 areas which is more than double the previous release, to help ensure future energy security as we transition to a renewable energy future".  He also announced released for coal exploration.

He said this showed his government's "commitment to creating a stronger economy by encouraging private sector investment and the jobs that follow". "This vote of confidence from international investors further demonstrates the Palaszczuk government has established the right policy settings and investment climate to further bolster the $441 million already being invested in exploration in Queensland."

He said the 10 coal areas would be in the Bowen and Eromanga basins, with the former hosting nine, but did not give the location of the petroleum acreage, only saying that the land had proven resources "and is supported by existing pipeline and transport infrastructure". 

Narrabri CSG

Helen Redmond, Melissa Hastwell and Geralyn McCarron will be presenting at the upcoming health meeting in Narrabri (August 15) regarding the health impacts of CSG. Everyone is welcome. Further details are available on our website.  

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