The Age has a look at Victoria's inability to kick the coal habit - and their desire to start exporting the lowest form of coal around the globe - Brumby's dirty secret: coal for export. Anyone who can explain what a "dirtier" fuel that would be importers could use please speak up.
Victoria’s brown coal reserves look set to be opened up to export on a mass scale — prompting claims the state is putting commercial opportunity ahead of its responsibility to curb greenhouse gas emissions.
Confidential cabinet documents obtained by The Age show the Brumby Government is considering offering billions of tonnes of Latrobe Valley coal for competitive tender next year.
The tender process would be preceded by a green light for a $1.5billion scheme by the company Exergen to mine, dry and export 12 million tonnes of brown coal a year to be burned in Indian power stations.
Exergen wants to build a 150-kilometre underground pipe to carry the dried coal from the Latrobe Valley to an expanded port at Hastings on Western Port.
The cabinet documents acknowledge that community concerns could be raised by the export of brown coal, a ‘‘dirty’’ fuel that that emits significantly more greenhouse gases than alternative electricity sources such as gas and black coal.
But the documents say exports can be justified on three grounds: Victoria cannot unilaterally limit global emissions, the coal products could help developing countries overcome poverty, and emissions may be even higher if countries are denied Victorian coal and use dirtier fuels.
Environment Victoria, the state’s main green lobby, said it was stunned the Government would want to expand an industry that needed to be phased out to tackle climate change.
Campaigns director Mark Wakeham said Victoria justifying coal exports on the grounds that the state was not responsible for a global climate deal would be ‘‘like saying we can’t single-handedly deliver world peace so let’s go on a killing spree’’.