Premier John Brumby is facing calls that he must block a proposed new coal power station in the Latrobe Valley to back up his claim that he will lead the nation on climate change policy.
An application to build a long-delayed plant at Morwell using new ''clean coal'' gasification technology says its greenhouse gas emissions would be up to 36 per cent lower than the cleanest existing Victorian brown-coal power plant.
But, according to details released yesterday, the plant would still release up to 4.2 million tonnes of gas a year – increasing Victoria's annual emissions by about 3 per cent.
Its current design is also likely to breach emissions standards for new coal power plants announced in last week's state government climate change white paper.
Opposition parties and environment groups seized on the application by Dual Gas – a subsidiary of Melbourne company HRL – as a test of Mr Brumby's commitment to a target of cutting emissions by 20 per cent this decade.
Environment Victoria said the plant's emissions would cancel the cut in pollution achieved under a government plan to shut a quarter of the Hazelwood brown-coal station by 2014. ''It will be impossible to meet Premier Brumby's target if we build new coal-fired power stations,'' campaigns director Mark Wakeham said.
Government spokeswoman Roxanne Punton said the HRL plant would go ahead only if the Environment Protection Authority was satisfied it met the emissions limit for new plants – 0.8 tonnes of carbon dioxide emitted per megawatt hour generated.
In an application posted on the EPA website, HRL estimates its plant would have average emissions between 0.78 and 0.89 tonnes per megawatt hour – roughly equivalent to a modern black-coal power plant.