Media Releases | 25th Jan, 2017

Disappointing EPA approval for coal generator expansion shows need for clearer climate regulation

Approval by Victoria’s Environment Protection Authority (EPA) for the expansion of the Loy Yang B coal-burning power station will lead to an increase in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, showing the EPA needs clearer powers to protect the environment in a time of climate change, Environment Victoria said today.

The works approval comes just a week after the Andrews government released its plans to modernise the EPA, which confirmed the EPA can regulate CO2 but fell short of requiring the EPA to do so.

Environment Victoria CEO Mark Wakeham said today:

“It’s extremely disappointing the EPA is allowing Loy Yang B to increase climate and air pollution. It highlights that the Andrews government needs to urgently strengthen the EPA’s powers to regulate climate pollution if Victoria is to have any hope of achieving climate pollution reduction targets announced by the Premier last year.

“The Andrews government has set a target to reduce climate pollution to zero by 2050. Each time projects are approved that drive up carbon emissions, however large or small, we make achieving our climate targets harder and we make the impacts of climate change worse.

“In the 21st century, an environmental regulator should be required to put limits on carbon emissions. It’s a major failure that Victoria’s biggest polluters do not have CO2 limits in their licence conditions.

“If Victoria is to keep its commitments to contribute to global efforts to stay below two degrees of warming, brown coal power stations need to be phased out urgently, not allowed to expand and lock in further operation.”

The EPA’s approval for the upgrade, scheduled for 2019-2020, was granted on the condition that there is no net increase in climate or air pollution in the Latrobe Valley.

“The logic of this decision is that as long as we don’t go above current pollution levels, polluters can keep polluting. This is clearly false: climate pollution needs to drop to zero as quickly as possible, and current levels of air pollution are making people sick.

“It is disappointing that the EPA has made a decision on such flawed logic. It stands in stark contrast to the general duty to avoid harm, which is a key part of upcoming reforms of the regulator.

“The EPA should be adding licence conditions to ensure that Loy Yang B’s climate and air pollution do not increase with any major works.”

“The decision also raises questions about the sincerity of Engie’s commitment to shift away from coal generation. While Engie has decided to close Hazelwood they are now planning to increase pollution at Loy Yang B. You can’t shift to renewable energy by building more coal generation.”

For interview and further comment:

Mark Wakeham, Environment Victoria CEO
Mobile: 0439 700 501