Posted by Steve on December 7, 2010
Responsible Mining and Coal Seam Gas Development for Queensland:
Draft Policy of the Regional Branches of the Queensland Greens
Since 2001Queensland has been in the midst of a massive coal and coal seam gas rush that has intensified since 2008. As stated in the Queensland Greens energy and climate change policy the Queensland Greens have opposed any new coal mines and have called for alternative renewable energy sources since 2009.
However the extent of this boom is not just damaging the global climate and Queensland’s capacity to limit its emissions, it is also radically re-structuring the Queensland economy and the lifestyles of many regional communities.
Rural and regional branches of the Queensland Greens want to restore some balance and responsible limits in the midst of the industry hype. We oppose the narrowing of the state’s economic base by supplanting sustainable industries with an unsustainable, limited-life coal and gas industry, the pollution of Queensland’s limited fresh water sources, losses to the state’s cropping lands and extensive public funding of infrastructure for coal and gas.
This policy supplements, and should be read in conjunction with, the party’s policy on energy and climate change.
- The overwhelming scientific evidence of human-induced global warming demands that each state and nation substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions and begin the transition to a low carbon and energy efficient economy.
- The Greens recognise that Queensland, as the largest coal exporting state in the largest coal exporting country in the world, must stand committed to phasing out the coal industry and implement its replacement with a jobs-rich clean energy economy.
- Coal, underground coal gasification and coal seam gas pose unacceptable threats to existing Queensland industries such as agriculture, grazing and tourism.
- Queensland’s increasing reliance on the export coal industry for economic prosperity imperils our economic future as countries turn away from fossil-fuel based economies and put a price on carbon.
- It is a responsibility of the state government to protect the state’s unique natural assets for present and future generations such as the Great Artesian Basin, the Great Barrier Reef, its agricultural soils and freshwater resources which are under severe threat from the direct and indirect consequences of the mining, drilling, export and burning of coal and coal seam gas.
- Coal mining, underground coal gasification and coal seam gas extraction are land uses which are incompatible with farming, tourism and residential communities because they result in massive damage to:
- the health, social and economic viability of communities in the vicinity of coal mines, gas wells, condensers, coal dumps and coal ports
- bio-diversity and ecosystems through their impacts on rivers, aquifers and the geological integrity of landscapes.
The Queensland Greens want:
- a robust economy built on diverse sectors and not reliant on any one sector for its prosperity.
- the development of a post-carbon Queensland economy that focuses on the development of renewable energy production including universal household solar power, the encouragement of green industries and green practices in all businesses, and world standard transportation infrastructure.
- a mining sector that respects Queensland’s existing industries and towns.
- legislation that recognises that mining is incompatible with all other land uses and so its public benefit needs to be rigorously assessed before being approved.
- protection of all cultivation and grazing lands and the aquifers which sustain them.
- an end to land swaps involving national and marine parks.
- long-term protection of privately owned nature reserves and nationally significant wetlands.
- an EIS process that is affordable and transparent to the public, which truly assesses projects and offers a real opportunity to halt the project if criteria are not met, rather than allowing projects to proceed regardless and then simply seeking to manage environmentally disastrous outcomes.
- a transition strategy to reduce coal exports significantly by 2020 and a total phase out of coal exports by 2030.
The Queensland Greens will:
- amend the Environmental Protection Act 1994 and the Petroleum and Gas (Production and Safety) Act 2004 Mining Act so that mining activities are not exempt from the state’s existing water, vegetation management and pollution laws.
prohibit underground coal gasification which has proven to be inherently polluting.
- place a moratorium on all further CSG development until it can be unequivocally demonstrated that it will not have unacceptable social and environmental impacts.
- exclude all coal mines and coal seam gas extraction from residential areas, cropping lands and catchments for marine parks and world heritage sites.
- only allow coal seam gas extraction when the company can satisfactorily prove that they will have minimal impact on underground aquifers.
- prohibit the storage and burial of CSG salt near any cropping lands and floodplains.
- require any new gas-fired power stations to be truly transitional by requiring the introduction of renewable energy options such as solar or geothermal during development and construction.
- introduce transitional strategies to reduce coal exports by 2020 by:
- refusing to approve any expansion of existing mines
- withdrawing funding for new coal ports at Dudgeon Point and the expansion of Hay Point
- withdrawing funding for any new rail lines unless they will service additional industries or residential communities
- withdrawing funding for new dams such as the Nathan and Connors Dams
- re-directing the $25.5 billion of public funds currently proposed under the Bligh Government’s Coal Infrastructure Program to renewable industries and urgent social services.
Posted by Steve on June 20, 2010
Queensland Greens spokesperson, Dr Libby Connors, said the latest deaths made the release of the Noosa Fish Health Investigation Taskforce report all the more urgent.
“We know the two veterinary scientists on the scientific sub-committee concluded agricultural chemicals were factors in the fish deaths,” Dr Connors said.
“The public has the right to be concerned about the delay in releasing the final report which was originally scheduled for April.”
Since the taskforce began its investigation:
* Sunfish Queensland has reported an increase in deformities in bream caught along the southeast coast
* The United States Environmental Protection Agency has commenced withdrawing endosulfan from the US market owing to concerns about endosulfan’s environmental harm
* The Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) was revealed to have misrepresented chemical test results from the Noosa River
“In the midst of mounting local and international evidence, Australian agencies responsible for monitoring agri-chemical use appear to be in denial about the environmental harm and harm to public health caused by these chemicals,” Dr Connors said.
“We need to know what action, if any, the Queensland government is going to take in the face of this evidence of serious environmental harm.
“How many more fish deaths have to occur before the report will be released?
“The Noosa fish hatchery is clearly the canary in the southeast Queensland environment.”
Posted by Steve on May 26, 2010
Shen Neng 1 grounded on Douglas Shoals
The Australian Greens say vital clean up measures must be undertaken on the Great Barrier Reef after it was today revealed toxic anti-fouling paint continues to poison marine life in the area around Douglas Shoal destroyed by the Shen Neng 1 last month.
Australian Greens Marine Spokesperson, Senator Rachel Siewert used the Senate Estimate hearings to investigate the ongoing environmental impact of the Shen Neng 1 disaster, which gouged a three kilometre channel into the reef, stripping toxic paint from the ship’s hull.
“This toxic, anti-fouling paint continues to kill marine life on the reef, seeping chemicals into the marine environment,” Senator Siewert said today.
“Simply removing the vessel does not remove the paint from the water- a specific, targeted cleanup is absolutely essential, with preliminary estimates indicating that about 35,000 square metres of the reef may be affected,” said Senator Siewert.
“It appears likely the older layers of anti-fouling paint scraped off the Shen Neng 1’s hull contain TBT – a chemical which is leeched from the paint into the seawater and is then absorbed by marine life.
“TBT has hormone disruptive properties at even low levels of concentration and can remain in the ecosystem for long periods of time, becoming more concentrated as it moves up the food chain.
“Dr Russell Reichelt, Chairman of the Great Barrier Reef Authority told the Senate Estimates that an assessment of the impact of the damage caused by the Shen Neng 1 is likely to be released in a couple of weeks and include an assessment of the impact of the ant-fouling paint.
“Unfortunately, as put forward during Estimates, some of the paint may be in the form of fine particles, which are easily spread through the ocean, leading to a much larger impact than the 35,000 square metres currently estimated.
“This toxic paint continues to kill plant and animal life on the reef, adding to the irreparable damaged caused by the ship itself. It is critically important that cleanup efforts are immediately undertaken.
“The Australian Greens will be tabling a motion to establish a Senate Inquiry into the management of the incident and subsequent cleanup management,” Senator Siewert concluded.
Massive reef damage to Douglas Shoals
Posted by Steve on April 12, 2010
The Federal Government has no alternative but to scrap the nomination of Muckaty Station, near Tennant Creek, as a site for Australia’s first ever radioactive waste dump following evidence heard at a Senate inquiry in Darwin, according to the Australian Greens.
“Today we heard first hand accounts of just how flawed the process was that led to Muckaty’s nomination,” said Senate Committee Member Greens Senator Scott Ludlam.
“Numerous Traditional Owners outlined how they and their people were completely excluded from the shared decision making process which is the norm in Aboriginal custom on issues to do with kinship of land.
“Despite claims to the contrary, it is clear they were not properly consulted and have never given consent – a fact human rights lawyers recently confirmed as they assess avenues for a possible legal challenge.
“From all I have heard and read in this inquiry from over 230 submissions, the only outcome is for Muckaty to be scrapped and a fresh process begun that is truly consultative, transparent, scientific, and accountable, as this government promised.
“Labor must now do the right thing by the people of the Northern Territory, not to mention avoid the possibility of an embarrassing, protracted legal battle,” Senator Ludlam said.
Posted by Steve on November 19, 2009
The Australian Greens say World Toilet Day is an opportunity to highlight the importance of world-wide sanitation.
“It is shocking that 2.5 billion people worldwide are without access to proper sanitation. This risks their health, strips their dignity, and kills 1.8 million people, most of which are children, every year,” said Australian Greens Senator Rachel Siewert.
“Today is World Toilet Day, which some think is funny, but the number of deaths and suffering as a result of poor sanitation is a sobering reminder that more is needed to reduce suffering around the world.”
“Lack of proper sanitation is the world’s biggest cause of malnutrition and infection, causing diseases such as diarrhoea, cholera, typhoid and worm infections that kill 5,000 children each day.”
“Clean toilets contribute to poverty eradication by protection one’s health and ability to work. Safe collection and treatment of human waste and other various wastewaters protects drinking water sources and eco-systems, creating clean and healthy living environments, particularly in urban areas,” said Senator Siewert.
“Australia’s contribution to sanitation projects in the developing world should be increased. By next year it is expected to increase to $250m, however, this is still below our fair share – Australia’s calculated fair share to sanitation in the Millennium Development Goals is estimated to be $350m.”
“The current sanitation problem in Timor-Leste illustrates this point. Diarrhoea is a leading cause of under-five child deaths in Timor-Leste, accounting for 22% of the total 5,000 children that die every year. Access to sanitation in Timor-Leste is estimated at 41% and the country is perilously short of meeting the MDG target for sanitation. The sanitation improvements that will dramatically improve child mortality and general community health in Timor-Leste are relatively cheap and easily implemented.”
The Senate yesterday passed a Greens motion recognising the importance of World Toilet Day, and calling on the government to invest in foreign aid projects aimed at improving sanitation levels.
“The Senate has backed my calls for the Australian Government to play a constructive, proactive role at the upcoming Global Framework for Action on Water and Sanitation meeting in Washington April 2010. This is the opportunity for global support of sanitation policy leadership,” concluded Senator Siewert.
Posted by Steve on November 15, 2009
Greens Leader Bob Brown says the Rudd government and Turnbull opposition are on the verge of a polluter’s pact which will lock Australia into failure in dealing with climate change.
“The opposition, in winning a ‘permanent’ exclusion concession on agriculture, is now set for more featherbedding of the worst polluting industries before endorsing the emissions trading scheme with its risible 5% minimum greenhouse gas reduction target”, Senator Brown said.
“A Galaxy poll released by the Greens today shows most Australians want the minimum 25% reduction target called for by scientists, environmentalists and the Greens.
“A separate poll released by Australian Greens Higgins candidate Clive Hamilton shows 69% of Australians want the government to negotiate with the Greens.
“The big polluters have the big parties captured and stored. This is a Labor-Coalition recipe for failure,” Senator Brown said.