Great news! Two huge coal mine proposals in Central Queensland have been shelved.
Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek has just confirmed the proposed China Stone Coal Mine in the Galilee Basin, and The Range Coal proposal in the Surat Basin cannot be approved – because the companies failed to submit enough information about their environmental risks.
This is such welcome news. All coal that stays in the ground is a win for our climate, our environment and our communities.
But the real test for Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek is still to come.
You might remember writing public comments about these two coal proposals, back in November?
China Stone and The Range are both part of the Living Wonders legal intervention, which we commenced in July last year for our client, the Environment Council of Central Queensland.
In this landmark legal challenge, our client submitted thousands of pieces of evidence of climate impacts to compel Minister Plibersek to reconsider 19 coal and gas proposals awaiting federal approval.
Since then, five proposed coal and gas projects have either been refused by the Minister or withdrawn by the companies. Now we’re down to 14 awaiting decisions.
The reason I say the real test is still to come?
It’s not yet clear if the Minister will act on the vast amount of scientific evidence ECoCeQ submitted with their requests.
This matters, because it has the potential to set a game-changing precedent for how all future coal and gas projects are assessed.
This also matters because, as absurd as it sounds, until now, Australia’s federal environment ministers when making decisions on coal and gas proposals have never properly assessed the biggest threat to our living wonders: climate change.
Among the proposals that remain on the Minister’s desk are two major potential climate dangers: Woodside’s North West Shelf Extension, and the proposed Mount Pleasant open cut coal mine in NSW.
Thank you to all the people and groups who wrote public comments to show the Minister how much is at stake.
The Minister’s decisions this week about China Stone and The Range suggests she’s paying attention.
Personally, I think it will be hard for Minister Plibersek not to listen to the science. Believe me, once you’ve seen that evidence, you can’t unsee it.
Equally though, we have witnessed the influence of the fossil fuel industry and decades of government inaction on climate change.
Now we wait for the outcome of the real test…
In the meantime, we firmly believe everyone should have access to this vault of climate evidence.
That’s why, for ECoCeQ’s intervention, we’ve created a searchable website at www.livingwonders.org.au so people right across this continent and the world can read, understand and draw on the latest science.
Maybe you’re just curious.
Maybe you’re writing to your local MP and want to include some info on climate risks to local threatened wildlife. (Hot tip! You can search by species)
Maybe you’re preparing other public interest environmental litigation.
You can search and explore all of our client’s evidence on the Living Wonders website.
You can also chip in to power more game-changing climate litigation and legal interventions like this.
Thanks for standing with us.
EJA Senior Lawyer