New South Wales politicians want to introduce new rules to prevent regulatory authorities from using overseas carbon emissions as a reason to reject resources projects.
The State Government intends to support new laws that ban the Independent Planning Commission NSW from considering the environmental consequences of exporting coal to other countries while reviewing applications for new exploration work.
‘Downstream emissions’ rejected
State Deputy Premier John Barilaro (pictured centre) believes this would be possible by amending the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act to forbid approval conditions based on so-called “downstream emissions”.
The announcement came two years after the commission rejected Gloucester Resources’ $90 million Rocky Hill Coal Project, 100km north of Newcastle. The judge openly declared the mine would increase global greenhouse gas emissions at a time when a “rapid and deep decrease” was required according to the Australian Associated Press (AAP).
“These changes will help restore NSW law and policy to the situation that existed prior to the Rocky Hill decision and will provide the mining sector with greater certainty,” he said in a statement according to AAP.
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‘Cave in’ claimed
Barilaro also said the proposed changes would “clarify concerns” around the export of coal and the government had “moved quickly to resolve the issue”.
However, climate change believers convinced about 50 scientists and experts to sign an open letter to the government that asks for the commission to continue doing business as usual without any legislative changes.
In the letter published by the Australia Institute’s climate and energy program, the signatories told the government not to “cave in” to pressure from the industry, because domestic mines are allegedly adding hundreds of millions of tonnes of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere each year.
“The hotter conditions and more extreme heatwaves driven by climate change are worsening the impacts of drought,” the letter said according to AAP. “These impacts of climate change are being made worse by emissions from coal mined in NSW.”
The Climate Council described the government’s support for the industry as “outrageous”.
“We need to ask hard questions about the power of the coal mining lobby to advance its interests at the expense of the community,” council researcher Tim Baxter said in a statement obtained by AAP.