Sad news to green advocates as the Australian government confirms that the regulations which were lifted during the carbon tax era will no longer be reapplied. In fact, one of the biggest power resource projects in the country is operating without any form of carbon emission regulation.
The reason is that the Australian government deemed it fit not to reintroduce state controls that were suspended at the time of the carbon tax era.
Carbon regulation scraped as polluters operate unchecked
As a response to a government policy that allows the environment minister to repudiate regulations that are ‘non-complimentary to a federal scheme, Wheatstone, a $30 billion liquid gas project of Chevron located in the Pilbara, applied for an exemption in 2012.
It was one of two projects that sought to be exempted from the carbon emission regulations. West Angelas, an open-cut iron ore mine was the other project. This mine is located near Newman. Rio Tinto owns a controlling interest in this project.
Bill Marmion, then the state’s environment minister abandoned the requirement for the two projects to create a greenhouse gas abatement plan which should include targets and recording emissions.
Gas and coal projects now unrestricted by previous carbon tax
Marmion’s decision was in conflict with the recommendations of both the Environmental Protection Agency and an independent economic report authorized by the government.
Albert Jacob, the present environment minister, explained to the Guardian early this year, the he is not reviving state regulations on these projects, even if the Abbott government repealed the carbon tax last July 1, 2014.
“I do not intend on reviewing or reapplying any greenhouse gas emission conditions that have been removed by the previous minister for environment,” says Jacob.
“The government’s view is that decisions on the design, implementation and timing of the regulation of greenhouse emissions are primarily matters for the Commonwealth government and the federal parliament,” he continues.
Polluting companies profits go up as damage to climate is disregarded
Chris Tallentire, environment spokesman of Labor explained that the decision made in 2012 by the then environment minister Marmion was justified. However, he added it was not justified that the projects were left unregistered because of the lack of a national scheme.
As a result of the lack of regulation, projects are being gifted with a windfall profit – generally a minimum of $54 million per year, according to Tallentire. “It’s a betrayal of the environmental impact assessment process that we have here in WA,” says Tallentire.
The Wheatstone project, according to an EPA report, will dramatically increase the state’s greenhouse gas emissions, at approximately 10 million tonnes of carbon dioxide per year. This would mean a 13.5 per cent increase on the state’s 2006 to 2007 emission levels.
Environment suffers as policies continue favour mining industry
“With the removal of a carbon price, both the state and commonwealth governments have completely abrogated their responsibility to control pollution, to protect our environment and to address climate change,” warns Piers Verstegen, director of Conservation Council of Western Australia.
Last December, Marmion, who is currently the mining minister, unveiled a 50% rebate on iron ore royalties for junior miners after iron ore prices fell.
Photo by: Roo Reynolds on Flickr