Victoria’s Labor Government is under pressure to crack down on air pollution from coal-fired power stations after the Labor Opposition in NSW announced a 10 year plan to clean up air pollution in the state.
Last week, Adam Searle, NSW Labor’s energy spokesman, said a Labor government, if elected in March, would order the EPA to review emissions standards that apply to each coal-fired power station.
In consultation with industry and the community, it would “ensure they meet world-class standards for community health and safety and are consistent with meeting Australia’s carbon emission reduction targets”.
A Labor government would also review the locations of air quality monitoring stations near power stations for their effectiveness, and would establish new ones in the vicinity of plants “where no adequate monitoring currently exists”.
The announcement came shortly after the NSW EPA re-issued licences permitting the Vales Point, Mt Piper and Eraring power stations to continue emitting higher levels of coal pollution than permitted in most developed nations.
Pressure is now on the Andrews Government in Victoria to tighten power station pollution licences to protect human health in line with NSW’s announcement and as the Victorian community awaits decisions on licence reviews for coal-fired power stations in the Latrobe Valley.
Nicola Rivers, Director Advocacy and Research at Environmental Justice Australia said, “This is such a welcome announcement from the NSW Labor Opposition and a striking demonstration of their commitment to clean air and community health and wellbeing.”
“We need to see the same kind of leadership from Victorian Labor to bring the Latrobe Valley’s coal-fired power stations in line with the world’s best practice to protect community health.”
“People in the Latrobe Valley have borne the environmental and health burden of air pollution from coal-fired power stations for decades while big energy companies make huge profits from polluting power plants.”
“The Victorian EPA is still in the process of reviewing the licences for the Latrobe Valley power stations. This is an opportunity for the Victorian Government to take a stand and put the interests of people before the profits of big polluting companies.”
Thousands of citizens, union representatives and health and legal experts have been calling for both the NSW and Victorian EPAs to use scheduled licence reviews to make coal-fired power stations install available pollution controls to protect community health.
Coal-fired power stations release more than 30 toxic pollutants and are the single biggest source of dangerous sulfur dioxide (SO2) oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and fine particle pollution (PM2.5) in Australia.
Currently, Latrobe Valley power stations do not have pollution controls fitted that that limit toxic pollutants by more than 85 per cent and are standard in Europe, the U.S. and China.
Sydney Morning Herald, 31/1/2019 ‘Blue in the face’: NSW power plants in Labor’s electoral sights
NSW EPA decision on coal-fired power station licence review