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Government’s lignite mining ambitions still billowing smoke

Brendon Burns
Climate Change Spokesperson

31 August 2011

Government’s lignite mining ambitions still billowing smoke

The Government’s new Energy Strategy might not refer specifically to lignite mining, but plans to turn the dirty brown coal into fuel are still very much alive, Labour’s Climate Change spokesman Brendon Burns says.

“Comments from Solid Energy’s CEO, Dr Don Elder, make that blatantly clear.

While the draft strategy leaked in April included lignite mining, it’s missing in the final version. Yet Dr Elder is now saying that nothing should be read into the omission, and the strategy simply left out details of specific projects

“Dr Elder is also very publicly talking up the economic gains from lignite mining. He would not be doing so if the Prime Minister was not already on-record stating that he thinks the environmental damage from lignite can be ‘balanced’,” Brendon Burns said.

“As a Christchurch MP I am acutely aware of the need for revenue to pay for the rebuild of the city. However, I also know that mining dirty brown coal and turning it into diesel will add horrendously to our carbon emissions when we are already tracking to grossly exceed the carbons levels we have committed by international agreement to achieve.

“As the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment has pointed out, there are no easy options to deal with the huge emissions created by processing lignite; either hundreds of millions of dollars in potential taxpayer subsidies are created, an impossible number of trees have to be planted, or unproven carbon sequestration has to be risked.

“We can’t have it both ways. We make our living in the world on the back of our clean, green reputation. It is extremely unlikely that we can sink all the carbon a lignite plant would produce, let alone the two that are talked about.

“National’s energy strategy is another green-wash document. It has the Prime Minister’s hands all over it. Continued degradation of our environment puts the future of all New Zealanders and New Zealand, at risk,” Brendon Burns said.


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