Media Releases | 9th Sep, 2022

NSW EPA recognises greenhouse gasses as pollutants - Victorian EPA should follow suit

In response to the NSW Environmental Protection Authority’s (EPA) Draft Climate Change Policy and Action Plan that reclassifies carbon dioxide as a pollutant for the first time, Environment Victoria CEO Jono La Nauze said:

“Following a similar move from the US EPA recognising greenhouse gases as pollutants and imposing fines and criminal sentences on companies ignoring carbon caps, the NSW EPA has become the first state in Australia to follow suit.

“We applaud this as a vital step in cutting emissions and achieving state and national climate targets. This change in policy shows that when regulators fail to control greenhouse pollution, communities can force them to take action.”

Environment Victoria has a landmark legal action underway against the Victorian EPA and three energy companies (AGL, Energy Australia and Alinta).

“Many Victorians would be surprised to know that there is no legal limit on greenhouse pollution in Victoria. Our EPA has been asleep at the wheel on this issue.

“The NSW EPA is recognising the impact of climate damage on communities by recognising carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses as pollutants. The Victorian EPA should now update its own climate policies as a vital step towards giving it the regulatory teeth to help the Victorian government deliver on its carbon reduction targets.

“In Victoria’s Latrobe Valley, there have been human consequences over many years resulting from pollution from aging power stations impacting on human health and wellbeing. The Victorian EPA must now follow NSW’s lead and legally recognise the negative climate and human consequences of carbon pollution.”

The Supreme Court case will be the first test of Victoria’s key climate legislation, the Climate Change Act 2017. It will also be the first to challenge the regulation of air pollution from Victoria’s coal-burning power stations.

“We believe the Victorian EPA has failed to protect the health of the community and the environment so we’re putting the matter before a judge to decide,” he said.

Environment Victoria is being represented by lawyers from Environmental Justice Australia – a leading public interest legal organisation with a track record of holding government and industry to account.

Charley Brumby, Environment Justice Australia senior lawyer said: “It’s vital that our laws are applied as intended – to protect community health and our environment. It is in the public interest that the EPA is held accountable and its decisions are tested in court.”

Environment Victoria’s Supreme Court case will be heard over three days 18th to 20th October 2022.

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