Media Releases | 10th Dec, 2009

Coal decision a reprieve for the climate

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Environment Victoria today welcomed Minister Batchelor’s announcement that coal company Exergen would not receive an immediate allocation of brown coal for export, but called on the Brumby Government to rule out allocating any more of the Latrobe Valley’s brown coal in the future.

The call is supported by a confidential government report released today by Environment Victoria which advises against further coal handouts.

The report, Near Zero Emissions from Latrobe Valley brown coal, was written by consultants Firecone for the Department of Primary Industries and was obtained by Environment Victoria through a freedom of information request to the government.

The decision by the state government on Exergen follows a strong community campaign opposing the establishment of an export coal industry in Victoria.

Environment Victoria’s Campaigns Director Mark Wakeham said allocating more brown coal in a time of climate change was not in the public interest, and called on the Brumby Government to rule out a further coal allocation.

“We welcome the Government’s decision to shelve the Exergen proposal, however there is no case for any future coal allocation whether it was through a tender process or not,” he said.

“The Firecone report advises that there is no case for the Brumby Government to make new allocations of coal.

“It finds that the state government has already allocated 25 billion tonnes of coal under exploration or mining licences to companies that have not developed the projects for which they were given coal.

“For example, in 2002 three companies were given billions of tonnes of coal on the promise of developing so-called ‘clean coal’ projects. But none of these projects have materialised.

“This shows that ‘clean coal’ projects aren’t going ahead, not because of a lack of access to coal, but because the technology to develop these projects is decades away from commercialisation.”

The Firecone report states that carbon capture and storage is unlikely to be viable for decades and that it should not be supported by ongoing subsidies.

“Given the inability of the coal industry to clean up its act, and that last year 94 per cent of Victoria’s electricity came from burning coal, the state government needs to give up its obsession with developing the state’s coal resources and put its immediate efforts into supporting genuine clean and renewable energy alternatives,” Mr Wakeham said.

For further comments

Contact Mark Wakeham on 0439 700 501.

Read the Firecone report and Environment Victoria’s coal allocation media briefer.