Rudd’s CPRS has sent the message that big polluting companies can continue business as usual well into the future. The consequences are on display in NSW.
In its recent budget the government provided $200 million to increase the capacity of the Eraring coal-fired power station—already one of Australia’s largest sources of carbon emissions. This expansion will increase NSW electricity emissions by 2 per cent.
Further revelations have shown that the government has lodged planning documents for two new coal or gas-fired power stations at Bayswater and Mt Piper. The coal-fired power plant at Munmorah will also be refitted to allow continued operation.
The government has claimed the decision to consider gas power stations represents a move away from dependence on coal—but gas is still carbon-intensive. Gas power uses only 30 per cent less emissions than the least polluting type of coal power plant. The combined cost of work on these three power stations would be between $6 and $10 billion. If the government was serious about reducing dependence on fossil fuels it could build a similar capacity of solar power for that cost.
In an act of electricity privatisation by stealth, the final decision on whether the power stations will be coal or gas-fired will be left to the private sector—the new plants will be privately owned and operated.
The climate movement needs to fight for a moratorium on new power stations fired by fossil fuels, especially coal. Stopping the government’s attempt to keep expanding the coal industry will be a key battle for climate activists in NSW.
By James Supple

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