The Bracks Government must not give Australia’s most greenhouse polluting power station any new coal, urged the country’s green groups.
The call came as an independent planning panel recommended Hazelwood power station move a road and river, to be given access to enough coal to continue until 2026. The panel’s report also noted that the financial costs of climate change from Hazelwood alone will be $200 million, and expressed concern about negotiations between the Government and Hazelwood.
“We are extremely disappointed by the panel’s overall finding but even the panel recognised the Government’s dealings with Hazelwood have been insufficient,” said Environment Victoria’s Executive Director Marcus Godinho.
“Now it’s crunch time for the Bracks Government. It can lock Victoria into a climate change polluting future – with more bushfires, extreme weather and drought – or it can take the kind of environmental leadership the Premier boasts about and not give Hazelwood more coal than it has already been allocated.”
Australian Conservation Foundation Law Coordinator Charles Berger said the groups were encouraged by the panel’s support of emission trading. The panel’s report also notes that it is Government policy for Hazelwood to reduce its greenhouse pollution by 55 million tonnes (Mt) – over the life of the plant – rather than 25Mt as previously stated by Energy Minister Theo Theophanous.
“Of course there should be no new coal but if negotiations are going to continue the panel advises that greenhouse pollution be reduced by more than twice what Mr Theophanous has suggested. I urge Mr Theophanous to look at the panel’s advice more closely,” said Mr Berger.
Mr Godinho said Victoria is one of the worst climate change polluters on the planet – worse than the average American – and Hazelwood is Australia’s most polluting power station.
“The panel recognised that Hazelwood will have a substantial impact on the environment, causing $200 million worth of damage from climate change alone. This is a cost the community will have to bear,” he said.
“If they grant Hazelwood new coal, they will be acting in blatant contradiction of their policies, undermining all positive initiatives to reduce Victoria’s greenhouse pollution. It would be policy schizophrenia.”
If the Government approves the expansion it would create 250 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 a week of Hazelwood’s operations would cancel that benefit.