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Legal intervention for our living wonders: Reconsider 19 new coal and gas proposals

On behalf of our client, the courageous Environment Council of Central Queensland, we’ve just commenced a landmark legal intervention.

Our client has just asked Australia’s new Environment Minister to reconsider nearly all new coal and gas proposals currently awaiting federal approval.

Under a rarely used section of our national environment law, our client has submitted 19 reconsideration requests to the minister – plus an enormous body of evidence that sets out, with excruciating clarity, the climate risk from these fossil fuel proposals to thousands of nationally significant animals, plants and places under the minister’s watch. 

We are in awe of our courageous client and the amazing lawyers in our EJA team. 

We have more to share – so much more! – but first:  

ECoCeQ is a small but mighty volunteer-run community group, and this legal intervention is an enormous undertaking for them. Can you donate to their crowdfunding campaign to help meet the costs of this landmark legal intervention?

One of the 19 requests relates to the North West Shelf Extension in WA’s Pilbara. Woodside plans to extend its gigantic gas processing site there and keep extracting gas until 2070, fuelling more than 4 billion tonnes of climate emissions over the next 50 years. 

Another is Narrabri Underground coal mine in NSW, which Whitehaven wants to keep operating until 2044 and increase the amount of coal it digs up from 170 to 252 million tonnes. 

And the Range Project – a new open-cut coal mine in Queensland’s Surat Basin, where Stanmore Coal wants to dig up coal for a quarter of a century. 

And Australia Pacific LNG’s proposal to drill up to 7,700 new gas wells across central and south-west Queensland for export, releasing some 223 million tonnes of CO2, equivalent to 41% of Australia’s total greenhouse gas emissions in 2019.  

And Alpha North Coal Mine that Clive Palmer’s company Waratah Coal seeks to make three times larger than Adani’s mine, in central Queensland. 

Plus Boggabri coal mine. Ensham open-cut coal mine. The Styx Coal project. Baralaba South. Spur Hill. Saraji East. Winchester South. Lake Vermont Meadowbrook. Moorlands open cut coal mine. Mount Pleasant. Meandu Mine King 2 East. Caval Ridge. China Stone. Valeria. 

Every single one of these proposals stands to cause immense and irreversible damage to our climate, and to all of our living wonders. 

Our climate systems are already breaking down and the extinction crisis is here, now. These proposals will make an already difficult situation catastrophically worse.

 

Our client argues Australia’s previous environment ministers may have considered the immediate local impact of these proposals on matters of national environmental significance – such as risks to threatened animals that live near an actual mine site.  

But in their decision making, they neglected to consider the climate impact of these proposals.  

What does climate damage mean for reef-dwelling seahorses? And quolls? What about the Australian Alps and our ancient Gondwana Rainforests? All of these nationally protected animals, plants and places are under the minister’s watch.

That’s why our client has commenced this legal intervention.

Our client believes everyone should know about this, so we’ve opened the evidence to the public. 

This is about all of us.

This is about all the extraordinary animals, reptiles, birds, plants, cultural heritage, ecosystems and places we want our children, and their children, to know and love. 

Koalas and platypuses. Green turtles, dugongs and Tassie devils. Bilbies and bats and big old trees.

It’s about birds that traverse the planet to nest in our internationally recognised wetlands, and whales that nurse their calves in our seas.

It’s about delicate alpine ecosystems, thunderous waterfalls, miraculous deserts, and ochre-toned escarpments. It’s about the living cultural heritage of First Nations people.

It’s about Kakadu. The Tarkine. The Reef.

For decades, scientists have sounded the warning about climate damage. They’ve documented their findings, published reports, made recommendations.

(Thousands of these documents are part of the evidence bank our client is asking the minister to consider – you can explore it too at www.livingwonders.org.au) 

The evidence is overwhelming. The science is stark.

It’s time to face this.

The stakes couldn’t be higher. With this legal intervention, our client is asking our Tanya Plibersek to listen, and act.

But the future is not yet written. We can write it together, right now. 

For many months now, the EJA team has worked tirelessly with experts, scientists, lawyers and volunteers on this project for our client, Environment Centre of Central Queensland, or ECoCeQ. 

We’d love to share this work with you. 

Will you join us at a webinar this Wednesday night to hear the full story? You’ll meet ECoCeQ and EJA climate lawyers Hollie Kerwin and Retta Berryman.

What: Special online briefing about this legal intervention

When: Wednesday 13 July, 7.30-8.30pm 

Where: Online on zoom – RSVP for the link 

As Christine Carlisle, from our client ECoCeQ, says,

“Tanya Plibersek seems to be a woman with integrity and good judgement. I suspect she wants to do the right thing in her role. We hope she will listen to the science, and act.” 

These 19 legal requests are just the beginning. There will be many more opportunities for you to get involved in coming months to support our client’s action and encourage the Minister to step up.

Right now, you can:

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