COAL TECHNOLOGY company HRL (run by Channel Seven boss Kerry Stokes), the Chinese corporation Harbin Power and the Brumby Government have signed a formal contract to build a new $750 million dollar coal-fired power stations, in the La Trobe Valley.

This is an insane decision when we need urgent action to prevent runaway climate change.

The Victorian government is calling it a “clean coal” power station because it will reduce emissions from burning brown coal by 30 per cent. But this still leaves it with the emissions standards of a black coal power station. Friends of the Earth claim it will put annual 2.4–2.7 million tonnes of carbon dioxide into the air.

The Brumby Government has committed $50 million for the project and the Rudd Government $100 million.

It says a lot for what can be expected from Rudd’s Emissions Trading Scheme. Rather than polluters paying, these private companies are being paid to pollute by both state and federal governments. The companies involved would not be investing such large sums of money if they did not expect to continue to receive favourable treatment for the decades of expected life of the project.

Once operational the plant will need only 36 full-time positions. This shows what a lie it is when politicians or bosses state concern for jobs as a reason for not acting on climate change. If the same amount of money was invested in renewable energy it would create more jobs and help to reduce emissions. This decision is purely about private profit. Unions should ban construction of the project and demand investment to create green jobs instead.

One of the important demands that has emerged from the climate movement is for a moratorium on new coal-fired power stations. The HRL plant is the first of a new generation. We have to stop it.

By Chris Breen

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