Media Releases | 8th Jul, 2009

Coal projects a dangerous distraction

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Environment Victoria today warned that new coal projects proposed for the Latrobe Valley will be expensive, water intensive and will maintain the Latrobe Valley’s dependence on an outdated and highly polluting industry.

Environment Victoria campaigns director Mark Wakeham said the two coal projects proposed today moved the Latrobe Valley in the wrong direction and made the region more vulnerable to future shocks.

“Hazelwood is the most polluting power station in Australia, one of the most polluting in the world and is well past its use by date. By supporting these new coal projects instead of clean energy projects, the Victorian and Commonwealth governments are gambling with the future of the Latrobe Valley,” he said.

“The so-called Hazelwood Carbon Capture and Storage project is miniscule. For a cost of $10 million, including at least $2 million of taxpayers’ money, Hazelwood will capture a maximum of just 25 tonnes of their daily emissions of 50,000 tonnes.

“This project has more to do with trying to change community opinion about Hazelwood than it does reducing the power station’s emissions. Instead of throwing more money at Hazelwood, governments should be investing in genuinely clean energy projects and jobs in the Latrobe Valley.

“Environment Victoria is also concerned that there has been no public process or disclosure about the new project at Hazelwood. Key questions such as how much energy and water will the process use have not been addressed.

“It appears the state government is so keen to create the impression that the coal industry is cleaning up its act that it has overlooked the need for any formal approvals process.”

Mr Wakeham also expressed concern about a coal-to-liquids project that might proceed at Yallourn.

“It is difficult to tell whether this is a genuine project as every second week a start-up company makes an announcement about a new coal project in the Latrobe Valley. However, the suggestion that a plant could begin construction within weeks is alarming,” he said.

“Again there has been no public scrutiny of the project, no information on the energy and water inputs to the process and no environmental impact assessment.

“Coal to liquids projects are likely to be much more polluting than current oil extraction and refining processes, so moving to coal to liquids moves us even further from the appropriate climate solutions.

“The Brumby Government appears to have no vision for the Latrobe Valley other than as a polluting quarry. In the 21st century we can do better and create new low pollution industries and new jobs in the Latrobe Valley.

Read The Age’s story on Hazelwood and the launch of the CCS project