Author: tjonescan

Martha’s Mine

This fine poem is by Auckland Coal Action member Nick Pak. Martha’s Mine My aunt Martha has lived here twenty years now. They brought her here with empty promises; now life goes on bitter and ugly, a web of shattered dreams and sadness They’ve never taken away her rubbish – now twenty years of sludge sit in her backyard. Not profitable yet, she tells me as she watches the sludge shipping index to China It’s time to move on, she says. She used to have a good home, a sturdy four bedroom white painted weatherboard place, ’till Papa got too hungry and gobbled it up She’s on the benefit and her six kids have never had jobs. The employment situation here is the pits and her husband died long ago of respiratory failure With a glint of hope in her eye she tells me the kids are headed north, there are promises of work there, the nation is creating jobs for hard working Neu Zulunders. Next year I visit them in Northland. The birds have stopped singing and the rivers run with poison. I see them sitting in their rigs with eyes of shattered dreams and sadness For a visual artist’s close-up view of coal mining, check out Meliors Simms’ account of her recent visit to Stockton Mine:...

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Our Article in the Christchurch Press: Coal Mining Catastrophe

This week, CANA had a Perspective Piece in the Christchurch Press in response to a pro-coal-mining piece from Chris Baker of Straterra, the mining industry lobby group. We submitted the article as “Straterra Can’t Spin Climate Change Away”, but the Press gave it a better title: Coal Mining Catastrophe. The article is below, and also on Stuff: Coal Mining Catastrophe Chris Baker, the Chief Executive of Straterra, recently claimed [in the Press] that it was “unrealistic and irresponsible to advocate for a halt to coal mining in New Zealand”. Straterra’s spin is well-funded by its mining industry masters. But it is those who claim that New Zealand and the world can safely continue to mine and burn coal who are being unrealistic. Those who want to profit from coal mining adjust their tactics to the circumstances. In the USA, the mining companies, drillers and frackers continue to pour money into the climate change denial movement. In New Zealand, at least in public, the mining industry claims to be concerned about climate change. It just works hard to stop us taking any meaningful action on it. The world’s climate is already changing: more floods, more droughts, more tornadoes. Sea level rise has begun, and even if we stopped burning fossil fuels tomorrow, we are already committed to more. Climate change is driven by the burning of fossil fuels, and...

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Getting the Numbers: How You Can Help The Asset Sales Referendum Campaign

As you may have heard, signatures are currently being collected for a petition calling for a Citizens’ Initiated Referendum (CIR) against the Government’s proposed asset sales. If the petition gets enough valid signatures, the Government cannot prevent the referendum from being held. From a Coal Action Network Aotearoa perspective, we are most concerned about the planned privatisation of Solid Energy, which may allow them to raise investment capital for their planned massive lignite projects in Southland. Solid Energy is towards the back of the queue for privatisation. That means that, even if some asset sales have occurred by the time the referendum takes place, we should do everything we can to mobilise political opposition to the remaining sales. The wording of the referendum question will be: Do you support the Government selling up to 49 per cent of Meridian Energy, Mighty River Power, Genesis Power, Solid Energy and Air New Zealand? For the referendum to go ahead, the promoters of the referendum need to obtain over 300,000 valid signatures on the petition – that is, the signatures of people who are on the electoral roll, with their name and address details listed as they are on the electoral roll. That makes collecting signatures a job that has to be done carefully and well. And that’s why we’d like Coal Action Network Aotearoa supporters to help with the signature-gathering process....

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The Mt William North Hearings: Ignorance, Intimidation, and Elephants

Sharon McGarry thinks carbon dioxide makes holes in the ozone layer. No, not a year nine science student but a commissioner; one of three in Westport recently entrusted with the task of unravelling the scientific and economic data pertinent to the next mountaintop removal on the Stockton Plateau –Mt William North. The realisation that Ms McGarry did not have even a basic grasp of the science behind climate change was a shock, but the whole experience of submitting at this council hearing was a series of curious events. I was at the Westport Bridge Club to speak to my submission opposing Solid Energy’s proposal to mine 5.4 million tonnes of new coal at Mt William. If mined, this coal will send approximately 13 million tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere, widen even more the gap between reality and our international emissions obligations, further shred our clean green image, and destroy more endangered flora and fauna on the plateau. Less than two weeks before the hearing submitters received a letter telling us that, due to the recent Environment Court declaration, the commissioners were “not able to have regard to any evidence or submissions concerning the effects on climate change of discharges into air arising from the subsequent burning of coal.” Yes, that’s right, our supreme environmental statute, the RMA, is legally unable to consider the greatest environmental threat facing humanity;...

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The Economic Wellbeing Of Coal Mining Communities

One of the ways the mining industry tries to win over local communities is by promising wealth and jobs. In fact, coal mining makes communities poorer, not richer. At the Community Day of the Keep the Coal in the Hole Summer Festival in Southland in January 2012, Jeanette Fitzsimons presented research that demonstrates this. Just look at all the red figures on this slide (click on the image to see the full-size version): Not exactly an economic bonanza, is it? You can see all the Community Day presentations from the Summer Festival, including the rest of Jeanette’s presentation, on our...

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