Environment Victoria today accused the Bracks Government of undermining its key green policies, after failing to intervene to stop the expansion of Australia’s most greenhouse polluting power station.
The criticism comes on the third day of the resumed panel hearing into the expansion of Hazelwood power station in the Latrobe Valley.
Government agencies responsible for global warming and greenhouse pollution failed to contribute to the hearing, which betrayed their own policies, said EV’s Executive Director Marcus Godinho.
“It is pathetic that agencies responsible for greenhouse policy have not contributed to a process that will have vast implications for greenhouse pollution,” said Mr Godinho.
“The Government is betraying an issue they have taken some positive steps towards addressing. The bottom line is the extra pollution that will come from an expanded Hazelwood will wipe out many times over the pollution that will be reduced from their current greenhouse initiatives.”
Both the Department of Environment and the Sustainable Energy Authority – agencies responsible for global warming and greenhouse pollution – failed to make a submission to the hearing. The EPA’s submission expressed no view on the proposal other than to note that Hazelwood complied with the law. The only submission came from the Department of Infrastructure (DoI) which, during the panel hearing, purported to represent the Government’s view.
“Why have these agencies not done their job? DoI merely focused on emission trading as a silver bullet to climate change. If this is the Government’s position, then it is totally unacceptable and even alarming. It’s a terrifying prospect at a time when world the world must act to avert catastrophic climate change.”
Hazelwood, which uses 1950s technology, wants to expand the life of its Latrobe Valley mine from 2011 to 2031. If approved this would create up to 214 million tonnes of additional greenhouse pollution. To put this in context, Victoria’s 5-star energy efficient homes standard is expected to save 200,000 tonnes of greenhouse gasses per annum – just four days of Hazelwood’s operations would cancel that benefit.
Mr Godinho said: “The Government must rule out new and expansions to existing brown coal power stations. Coal stations in Victoria have shed hundreds of jobs, and throwing these old clunkers a life line stands in the way of new technology, investment and sustainable jobs.”
The resumed panel hearing follows a landmark legal precedent made last year when VCAT ruled the panel must re-sit to hear submissions on greenhouse pollution. The original panel was directed not to consider greenhouse pollution by the former Planning Minister.