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Coal Trumps Climate At Supreme Court

Coal Trumps Climate At Supreme Court

The Supreme Court issued a ruling today that climate change cannot be considered in coal mining resource consents.

“It should weigh on all of our consciences,” said West Coast Environment Network spokesperson Lynley Hargreaves. “That in New Zealand we have designed a system which puts the short-term economic gain of carbon-intensive industries above the well-being of future generations.”

“This is not the end of opposition to coal mining – we will use use every other peaceful process to stand up for the future of our children.”

The group had intended to call international climate experts to give evidence against a proposed opencast coal mine on the Denniston Plateau. But Australian miner Bathurst Resources and state-owned enterprise Solid Energy have now sought and won declarations that resource management law, as currently worded, excludes climate change considerations.

“All kinds of impacts are considered at resource consent hearings; affects on threatened species, acid mine drainage, biodiversity offsettting,” said Ms Hargreaves. “Even the companies admit that their coal mining will contribute to climate change, and we think that should be taken into account.”

“Otherwise, we risk the CO2 from this coal – which is unlikely to come under any carbon tax, emissions trading scheme or Kyoto target – never being considered at all.”

For more information, contact West Coast Environment Network spokesperson Lynley Hargreaves 037554227, or member Jeanette Fitzsimons, 0274 586 068.


1. The legal argument centered around the interpretation of a 2004 amendment to the Resource Management Act, which was to replace local authority consideration of climate change from New Zealand fuel combustion with a central government carbon tax, later changed to an Emissions Trading Scheme. However the amendment applies only to discharge permits, so West Coast Environment Network argues that it has no applicability to a coal mine when no application is made for a discharge permit.


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