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Energy Problems Remain Unsolved

Energy Problems Remain Unsolved

While this year's energy crisis may have been averted, it is clear that we are very vulnerable in a dry year - and the el Nino weather patterns could well create an extremely tight situation later this year or next year," ACT Deputy Leader Ken Shirley said today.

"The basic problem is lack of fuel with the variability of water in our hydro lakes and the expiry of our main gas reserve.

"Most experts agree that coal is the most reliable available fuel for the medium term. We are advised that the country has over 400 years supply of coal.

"Government policies toward coal are farcical and in need of review.

"Genesis has entered into contracts to import 600,000 tonnes of Indonesian coal commencing in July largely because we cannot access our own coal. It is interesting to note that the Government charges an `energy resources levy' on our own coal but exempts imported coal.

"Coal suppliers are also facing the prospect of a $25-per-tonne charge under Kyoto policies. The Government has confiscated the carbon sequestration rights of forest owners and uses that money to subsidise windmills which can never meet our needs in full, and then places impossible barriers on coal.

"One of the biggest problems facing the coal industry is access to known reserves that happen to be within the extensive conservation estate, particularly on the West Coast of the South Island.

"The Pike River Coal Company has been seeking access through a small portion of DoC land since 1998. They have now been granted the resource consents but the Department of Conservation may appeal those consents while continuing to deny access.

"The Labour Government boasts of a `whole of government approach' yet when it comes to the utilisation of our natural resources we see nothing but an array of conflicting policies," Mr Shirley said.

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