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Green dreamers seek to deny power for India’s poor

By Gary Johns - posted Thursday, 13 August 2015


The Adani Carmichael coalmine and rail project proposal in the north Galilee Basin, central Queensland, is based in a region that can be described only as clapped-out buffalo country, without the buffalo. It isn't real pretty. It is a coalmining region. It lives for coal.

There are no black soils, no rolling grassy fields, no lush forests, just brigalow and rock. If you consult your map, the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area is 270km north and the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area 200km east and 320km upstream. The entire impact area is less than 300 sq km.

Yet the law in Australia is that any substantial proposal must observe the requirements of a rigorous environmental impact statement. Adani started its study in 2010. It's still going.

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Part of the EIS is a "closure and rehabilitation" strategy; the requirement is "leave it as good as you found it". The strategy runs for the life of the mine, to 2074. That is no typo; the strategy runs for 60 years.

The greenies, however, want to create the impression that a bunch of Indian owners have wandered into Australia to tear apart our pristine environment and, of course, mine "killer coal". The truth is more sober.

The Adani EIS documents consist of three volumes and 62 appendices. Volume one is 68 pages, volume two is 79 pages, and volume three is 85 pages. Each appendix runs for scores, and in many cases hundreds, of pages. In all, the EIS is several thousand pages. These volumes and appendices are not school essays but highly professional, highly technical pieces of work.

Then came the supplementary EIS documents, three volumes and 62 appendices, all rewritten following a period of public comment.

The EIS was made available for public comment and review in early 2013. A total of 14,464 submissions were received, 68 from agencies, organisations, landholders and private submitters and the remainder, more than 14,000, from online rent-a-crowd greenies.

Of the online submissions, 36 per cent came from NSW, 24 per cent from Victoria and only 17 per cent from Queensland. It seems that ignorance and "passion" increase with distance.

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Then came 20 final EIS documents, each between scores and hundreds of pages in length. Then came the Queensland government co-ordinator-general's evaluation report on the environmental impact statement, 585 pages in length.

Across this period there was a series of notifications and official advices from the Commonwealth Department of the Environment and tens of millions of dollars invested in the EIS process.

Miners and financiers need to stare down greenies. They need to tell the real story that the Adani proposal does not threaten the Australian environment and that the Australian environmental regulation system is rigorous and exhaustive.

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This article was first published in The Australian.



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About the Author

Gary Johns is a former federal member of Parliament and served as a minister in the Keating Government. Since December 2017 he has been the commissioner of the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission.

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