Letter to The Hon. Chris Hartcher, Minister for Resources

Various technical topics related to science, energy, climate change and coal & gas.

Letter to The Hon. Chris Hartcher, Minister for Resources

Postby HVPA_research » Tue Apr 24, 2012 12:33 am

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Links to this page: http://forum.huntervalleyprotectionalliance.com/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=461,http://bit.ly/JL70G2

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* ARCHIVED FROM RIVERS SOS MAILING LIST *


Date: Sun, 22 Apr 2012 13:32:06 +1000
To: office@hartcher.minister.nsw.gov.au
From: Murray Scott
Subject: RiversSOS Meeting


The Hon. Chris Hartcher,
Minister for Resources and Energy etc.

cc to Chairperson of meeting.

You may recall my interjection and subsequent statement at the Rivers SOS meeting on Saturday April 22. I regret that my indignant tone may have obscured the point of my irritation.

You asserted that "unlike such groups, the Government has no intention of shutting down the coal industry". I can only interpret that as accusing people at this meeting of anarchist intentions. I expressed my affront at a presumption that we hold such simplistic, ill-informed and inconsiderate.views of the NSW and global energy economies.

The meeting was organised by RiversSOS which, from its inception has been at pains to work with the coal industry in promoting design of mines to minimise damage to rivers, catchments and aquifers. RiversSOS has consistently called for at least 1 km separation of longwall panels from streams and swamps to avoid upsidence cracking. That practical focus has been vindicated by continued damage where it was ignored, eg at Waratah Rivulet over LW20, and in no way embraces an intention to shut down the industry.

It is true however that I, and many groups and individuals at this meeting do want to see the burning of fossil fuels eventually discontinued worldwide, as does your Government if its professed aspiration to limit atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations is serious. Like your Government however, we all understand that this process will take time, innovation, investment, determined international diplomacy and critical reexamination of the role of energy consumption in Australia's prosperity. My own concern for equity, efficiency and constructive engagement in pursuing such changes may be judged from my submission to the former NSW Parliamentary Inquiry on Coal and Gas Stategy, submission No. 6 at
http://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/prod/parlment/committee.nsf/V3ListSubmissions?open&ParentUNID=29AE48525CFAEA7CCA2578E3001ABD1C

I understand from the current Strategic Regional Land Use website that such submissions to the previous inquiry will be revisited in the new context. I am dismayed however to see no indication there of interest in or investigation of technological alternatives to current CSG industry practice that might significantly alter the balance of its utility vs impact. Without regulatory guidance there is no incentive for private enterprise to pursue a less damaging approach.

I accept the scientific consensus that exceeding the Cancun limit of two degrees global temperature rise would severely impact people in many parts of the world, and any chance of meeting that constraint requires anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions to be substantially eliminated by the middle of this century. If that differs from your understanding I would be interested to read your scenario, arguments and supporting references.

The mid-century timescale collides with the economic life of mining, electricity and transport infrastructure investments being implemented or planned now. The economic viability and social impact of such investment must therefore be assessed in the expectation of a progressive shutdown over 40 years. The science behind that physical imperative is far more reliable than the financial projections that routinely influence Government and industry investment.

In the approach to this difficult but inescapable transition, any reduction in fossil fuel combustion is a greenhouse abatement benefit, set against the benefit offered by increased consumption. Like you, we all seek a balance in these trends but to date consumption growth grossly outweighs reductions. We will judge your Government's commitment to balance by its plans first to stabilise, then to progressively reduce NSW dependance on fossil fuel extraction with corresponding planned social, industrial and economic adjustment. That reduction includes fossil fuel exports because until a global emissions trading scheme is achieved, the responsibility for constraining emissions must rest with those who deliberately extract fossil hydrocarbons from secure sequestration undergound. Continued growth in that extraction rate indicates divergence from the Cancun-Durban trajectory and undermines Australia's modest diplomatic leverage in the vital negotiation of global constraints.

We all recognise that levelling then gradual reduction in net mining royalties will require alternative tax streams and that, as in wartime, the difficult task of Government is to equitably match resources to the task in hand and communicate the urgent need for this to the electorate. That calls for leadership, which is what parliamentarians of all stripes are paid to provide.

Murray Scott
individual member of RiversSOS


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Re: Letter to The Hon. Chris Hartcher, Minister for Resourc

Postby HVPA_research » Wed Apr 25, 2012 1:08 am

*CORRECTION OF A MISQUOTING*


The Hon. Chris Hartcher,
Minister for Resources and Energy.
cc meeting chairperson

With regard to my previous email, I have now had the opportunity to check a recording of the meeting and must apologise for misremembering and misquoting you.

You asserted that "unlike such groups, the Government has no intention of shutting down the coal industry". I can only interpret that as accusing people at this meeting of anarchist intentions. I expressed my affront at a presumption that we hold such simplistic, ill-informed and inconsiderate.views of the NSW and global energy economies.

What you actually said was:
"A lot of people say lets move away from coal, lets do it tomorrow, lets have solar, lets have wind. Its not technologically available, its not practical"

I could take issue with the actual constraints on replacing coal generated electricity with wind and solar, if not tomorrow then within a decade. But I am sure you have read and for some reason rejected the proposal put forward by Beyond Zero http://beyondzeroemissions.org/. I believe our main problem there and that of your Government, is not with the practicality of wind and solar, including solar thermal, but with stranded coal-based infrastructure assets and coal-dependant communities. It pains me to see the same myopic investment pattern being repeated with coalseam gas. Gas could be useful for the next century but not if we destructively squander it in a replay of the gold rush.

As for my complaint about your prejudice against activists' motives and understanding, I think the actual quote is, if anything, more explicitly patronising than I remembered. The remainder of my original letter stands unaltered.

Murray Scott
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