Author: rosep2012

What’ll I tell the grandkids, thirty years from now?

I wish I could tell them that yes, it came close, but we did save the Denniston Plateau. I wish I could say to my grandkids that, looking back, by 2013 the tide was turning. Maybe it was the movement to divest from fossil fuels that clinched it, as Bill McKibben’s 350 campaign began to grow that year from a little ripple to a wave, linking with the climate movements sprouting like so many connected gas wells across the landscape, across the world, rolling together into a tsunami that even reached New Zealand’s West Coast – at about the same time as the beautiful Denniston Plateau was abandoned to its fate by the highest court in our land. Maybe the tanking of the coal price helped clinch it, as Solid Energy’s 2013 financial report revealed the full extent of the brutal Hand of the Market on the lives of workers. And maybe, the unfortunate consequence of egotistical power fuelled by an ideologically blinded government, some people just got too greedy. Or maybe we finally got mad enough. There was a feeling, I’d tell my grandkids if I could, that we were on the edge of a turning, a wind change, of one of those moments where history is made. It was the end of coal, coming to pass in the nick of time to save the planet. In my...

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Do the right thing, Fonterra: Quit Coal

Coal Action Network Aotearoa applauds Fonterra for no longer accepting milk from farms that have converted marginal land into dairy pasture using oil and gas drilling waste (known as “land farming”). Fonterra say the perception of a safe clean dairy industry was a factor in this decision. It’s not a good look for Fonterra to collect milk from farms contaminated with toxic waste from the fossil fuel industry and they are right to stop that practice. But if Fonterra are worried about perception, they should stop using coal in their milk drying plants. Fonterra milk comes at a terrible cost to the environment and the climate, tainted as it is with coal. Mining and burning coal is the highest emitter of carbon dioxide on the planet. If we don’t phase out all coal before 2030, says retired NASA scientist-turned climate activist Professor James Hansen, and begin significantly reducing all fossil fuel emissions, it’s game over for the climate. That’s game over for our children’s future. Fonterra have options. They could use less polluting wood waste in their boilers, but instead choose coal. Pure milk and green pastures aren’t normally associated with dirty coal, or are they? Surprisingly, Fonterra are the third biggest users of coal in the country after the Glenbrook steel mill and the Huntly power station. Their Southland Edendale factory, currently the biggest milk drying plant in...

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Solid Goes Liquid

Under an Easter full moon, Solid Energy’s new venture Liquid Energy fires up, ready for the launch of Mataura Malt on 1 April. Solid Energy’s financial woes will be alleviated somewhat with the news of a new development at its troubled Craig Road briquetting plant. The $29 million plant ran into unforeseen difficulties since its completion in June last year, and commissioning of the plant, which was intended to turn lignite into briquettes for local and export markets, has not been completed. Solid Energy and their partner GTL Energy Ltd, which developed the briquetting technology, have formed another company, Liquid Energy Ltd. This new wholly owned NZ subsidiary will lease and run the plant for a one year period beginning 1 April, 2013, producing and distilling their “Mataura Malt” brand of Hokonui moonshine whiskey. “Everything is still shiny and new” said Liquid Energy’s new CEO John Smith. “The plant is clean and ready to produce its first whiskey consignment. We have a promising market for the whiskey, unlike the market for briquettes, which has run into difficulties.” “It has been a steep learning curve but we have been fortunate to draw on the expertise of the local Hokonui moonshine whiskey distillers’ fine tradition.” Smith said. In a modern version of the traditional Scottish method, which uses water from peat bogs, Liquid Energy will use water from lignite beds. “Lignite...

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Solid Energy and coal’s future? What future?

I had one of those “where were you?” moments last week. “Where were you when you heard Solid Energy had dropped their Southland lignite projects?” I was making mid-morning toast and coffee while listening to Kathryn Ryan’s National radio interview with Mark Ford, new Chair of Solid Energy. When he mumbled that yes, Southland lignite was one of the non-core assets Solid Energy would exit, I almost dropped the black currant jam. Mr Ford’s quiet tone made me wonder if I’d heard correctly. It must not be easy to admit that you’re going to have to cut your losses after your company made a monumental business balls-up, buying up a whole valley, dispersing the community of farmers who lived and worked there for generations, wasting $29 million of taxpayer money on the likes of a briquette plant that uses dirty lignite. But, he did say it, and it is great news for our campaign. It’s all about CO2, and Solid’s plans would have contributed to the approximately 8.9 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions from the 6 billion tonnes of economically recoverable lignite in Southland. CANA intends to stop this insanity and give the future a fighting chance. Lignite and briquettes In the same radio interview Geoff Bertram from Victoria University said the cyclical downturn in coal was easy to spot a year ago. Solid Energy’s lignite champion and...

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