Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Adani coalmining project: Australian govt may reissue permission, plans infrastructure at "taxpayers' expense"

By Our Representative
Is the powerful Adani Group on way to finally get clearance from the Australian government for its controversial coal mining project? It would seem so, if sources in the top environmental watchdog are any indication. A Greenpeace spokesperson has been quoted as saying, “We are expecting the Federal Government to make an announcement next week or so regarding re-issuing approval for the mine.”
In its August first week order, the Australian Federal Court had called the approval granted to one of the world’s biggest coalmining projects by Australian Environment Minister Greg Hunt “invalid”, citing environmental grounds.
The court had given three grounds for rejecting the government order: that the minister “incorrectly” assessed its climate impacts, “ignored” Adanis’ poor environmental record, and “failed” to consider conservation advice from his own department on the impact of the mine on two vulnerable species -- yakka skink and ornamental snake.
The minister, in fact, had conceded to the court that he had “failed” in his duty to properly assess the Carmichael mine project in accordance with his obligations under Federal environmental legislation. An  Adani communique had called the Federal Court order a result of “technical error” on the part of the Australian environmental authorities.
The Greenpeace view that the Federal Government would allow the Adani Group to coalmine comes amidst moves by it to take upon itself the effort to develop infrastructure around the Carmichael coalmine area, which is proposed to handed over to it. The Adani Group is known to be closest to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Greenpeace Australia Pacific, in a statement, has said it strongly disapproves of the government plans to “use taxpayers' money to build infrastructure for the failing Carmichael coalmine project in Queensland.”
Quoting resources and Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg, Greenpeace said, “The government would consider using funds from the $5 billion Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) on Galilee Basin coal projects, which could include a railway line from the proposed Carmichael Mine to Abbot Point.”
“It makes no sense at all to try to prop up this failed venture with taxpayers' money. Commercially, it’s a total flop and a bad investment," said Shani Tager, Greenpeace Australia Pacific's Reef Campaigner.
"This project has no investors, globally coal prices are falling and 14 international banks won’t touch it. It would cost $16.5bn to build and Adani doesn’t have the money," she underlined.
“Minister Frydenberg’s comments and the NAIF don’t reflect the new economic direction that Prime Minister Turnbull is setting. This is a fund for projects that are economically unviable and taxpayers’ money shouldn’t be used to prop up coal projects.”
Tager said spending NAIF money on Carmichael “would not bring in millions of dollars to Australia via royalties and taxes. Adani’s structure means profits would go offshore and taxes paid to Australia would be minimised.”
“Spending Australian taxpayer funds to help a foreign company develop a dirty industry that threatens the Reef illustrates how dangerously one-eyed the federal government is when it comes to the coal industry”, Tager said.
“It makes no sense to build infrastructure for a mine that in all likelihood won’t happen and should never happen. Dredging endangers the Reef’s World Heritage area and carbon pollution endangers the climate – the biggest threat to the Reef”, she added.
"Environmentally, it’s a massive carbon bomb that threatens the Great Barrier Reef, and socially it’s irresponsible. “It completely fails the triple bottom line. There is simply no good reason to develop Carmichael," she said.

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