Victorian brown coal plans hits hurdles

The Victorian Government’s plans to develop its brown coal reserves in the Latrobe Valley have already hit a roadblock.

Earlier this week the Baillieu Government’s strategy to develop the state’s reserves was announced.

According draft cabinet submissions it will look to "increase industry interest in participating in the proposed allocation of brown coal".

Victorian resources minister Michael O’Brien confirmed that it will be "seeking new expressions of interest for new allocations of brown coal.

"The allocations will be based on a competitive tender process with the goal of delivering real benefits to the Latrobe Valley region and Victoria," he said.

"The Victorian government believes that brown coal can, and should, play a key role in our energy future. The allocation process will deliver this.

"Encouraging new investors and the right technologies could deliver a new generation of industry in the Latrobe Valley, boosting the local economy and creating new jobs."

These announcements have drawn the ire of the Greens.

The Greens are calling for the Federal Government to slow down the brown coal movement.

However Federal climate change minister Greg Combet stated Victoria is free to pursue the energy plan, according to the ABC.

"We’re not in the business of picking particular fuel sources that should or should not be allowed to be exported," he said.

"The fact of the matter is that under the international accounting arrangements for greenhouse gas emissions, if the brown coal is burnt in another country that country has to account for its greenhouse gas emissions for the combustion of that coal.

"Well it’s certainly a policy that the Victorian Government is entitled to pursue and we don’t have a problem with economic development concepts.

"The carbon pricing legislation will provide price incentives to ensure that technologies are invested in so that brown coal can be used more efficiently and produce less emissions."

The Greens slammed these comments.

"Minister Combet should not be encouraging these moves by the Baillieu government. The Clean Energy Future package is about transitioning away from our dependence on coal, in particular brown coal. The Gillard government should not undermine that by backing this move. It is economically and environmentally irresponsible," Greens senator Christine Milne said.

Fellow Greens MP Adam Bandt added "as a Climate Change Minister you would think that part of your role is to ensure that Australia leads and tackles climate change".

He went on to attack the Baillieu Government’s move.

"The premier, Ted Baillieu, is an environmental vandal and must be stopped," he said.

"I will be seeking advice as to what can be done federally to stop this environmental madness.

"Scientists have told us we need to be decarbonising the economy by the middle of the century, meanwhile, Ted Baillieu has got his foot on the accelerator in the other direction," Bandt said.

Victoria is home to an abundance of brown coal occurring close to the earth’s surface, one of the largest and lowest cost energy sources in the world.

The Victorian Department of Primary Industries (DPI) says there is a proven resource potential of 430 billion tonnes of coal located in the state, which is a significant proportion of the world’s stores of brown coal.


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