Environment Victoria has today condemned the Napthine and Abbott Government’s reckless and short-sighted decision to develop a coal export industry in Victoria.
Today’s announcement of a $25m grant to Chinese utility Shanghai Electric to build a brown coal briquette factory for export purposes is the third polluting coal project funded in recent weeks. It confirms that the Napthine and Abbott Governments intend to ignore the real costs of coal, despite having had them painstakingly detailed over the past three weeks at the Hazelwood mine fire inquiry, and develop a new highly polluting and damaging industry.
The gung-ho support for 3 new coal projects is in stark contrast to the Napthine and Abbott Governments track record of scrapping support for renewable energy and energy efficiency programs, despite the fact that 78% of Victorians want more renewable energy projects and just 13% want new coal mines. 
Environment Victoria CEO Mark Wakeham today said:
“Of the 3 coal projects receiving taxpayers dollars this is the most damaging as it could develop a new export industry for a highly polluting product. If Shanghai Electric have their way we will see new coal mines impacting on local communities, a new coal export port with the coal industry’s preferred location at 90 Mile Beach, and Australia would become the first nation to undertake significant international trade in brown coal exports – among the most emissions-intensive sources of energy in the world.
“It’s a polluting vision that could only be entertained by governments that are failing to protect local communities from the impacts of coal mining and global warming.”
The Gippsland Freight Strategy outlines that the first 2 million tonnes per annum of any coal exported would leave from the Port of Geelong. If more than this was exported a new Port would be required, with Western Port, 90 Mile Beach and Corner Inlet being considered, but 90 Mile Beach the coal industry’s preferred location. All of these locations are protected marine areas and popular holiday spots that would be permanently damaged by dredging and construction.
Mr Wakeham warned that any coal exports through the Port of Geelong would see communities en route suffer from coal dust and congestion.
“If realized these plans mean hundreds more trucks clogging up the Monash Freeway, or passenger trains on the Pakenham line delayed by coal trains headed for Geelong. For hundreds of kilometres residents would be exposed to dangerous coal dust.”
Mr Wakeham concluded:
“These plans will be hard fought by environment groups and local communities who would be impacted by new mines, ports and transport infrastructure.
“We are surprised to see AGL, who were once a progressive power company supporting the Renewable Energy Target, enter the brown coal export industry. AGL owns the Loy Yang mine and plans to host the Shanghai Electric briquette facility. Given global investment dynamics which are increasingly favouring renewable energy this is an odd strategic decision. Further given that AGL has hundreds of thousands of customers who don’t want new coal mines this is a highly risky corporate strategy.
For more information please contact Holly Crocket 0413 343 329
Essential Media benchmark poll, results at https://environmentvictoria.org.au/newsite/sites/default/files/useruploads/Climate-questions.pdf