Kia ora koutou,
Welcome to the Coal Action Network Aotearoa March newsletter.
This is a big issue, but that’s because there is a lot going on! Since the Keep the Coal in the Hole Summer Festival in January, reported in our February issue, anti-coal action groups have sprung up around the country, and the heart of this issue is reports from groups and meetings from the north to the south of the country.
We also report on the protest we helped organise against John Key opening the Wellington offices of Bathurst Resources, which is the Australian mining company that wants to open a massive new coal mine on the Denniston Plateau – a protest that made sure our feckless Prime Minister and his mining industry cronies got the message loud and clear.
At the national level, the Coal Action Network Aotearoa organising group met earlier this month to plan our programme of work for the next six months. There is a huge amount coming up, and we can’t cover all of it in this newsletter, but in this issue we highlight two key campaigns that will have a high profile this year: the campaign against the Government’s planned sale of state assets, including Solid Energy, and the campaign against the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA), a nine-country agreement currently being negotiated under conditions of great secrecy which could make it very difficult to impose environmental standards on any foreign investor in Solid Energy.
We have also got a roundup of news about fracking, reports of recent events, and how you can support the production of further copies of the “Just Lignite” booklet.
- Join us on Facebook
- How to Donate
- The Network Goes Nationwide – news and reports from north to south
- The Denniston Campaign – including the Bathurst Resources protest
- Coming Events
- Keeping Solid Energy Under Control – including asset sales and the TPPA
- “Just Lignite” Booklet Needs Your Support
- Fracking Roundup
- News Snippets
- Campaign Resources
1. Join Us On Facebook
CANA has a Facebook group at http://www.facebook.com/#!/groups/218300434877031/
The group currently has about 340 members, with more than 60 joining in the last week! Given that the Newsletter mailing list is over 1500 strong, we think there are many of you out there who might want to join in and get the updates that happen in between newsletters – and to join the conversation.
There are two ways to join:
1) If you’re already a member of the Facebook group, advertise it on your newsfeed and invite friends to join
2) if you’re not on the group, go to the page and apply to join it.
We hope to see you there!
For Those Who Don’t Use Facebook…
Two other ways to get updates on what we’re doing between newsletters are to:
- Follow our Twitter account at https://twitter.com/#!/coalaction
- Follow our blog at http://coalactionnetworkaotearoa.wordpress.com/
2. How To Donate
We reply on your generous donations to keep the campaign going. Here are the account details if you want to donate:
Coal Action Network
38 9011 0484435 00
3. The Network Goes Nationwide
One of the best outcomes of the Summer Festival has been the many new regional groups that have formed to oppose the expansion of coal mining and burning, both in their local areas and nationally, to join existing groups in Southland, Dunedin and Auckland. We won’t always have space to feature all these groups each month, but in this issue we want to introduce you to each group.
Auckland Coal Action is one of the longest-established regional groups, and they meet regularly. Here are ACA’s contact and next meeting details:
Come along to the next meeting of Auckland Coal Action
Saturday 14 April
Quaker Meeting House
113 Mt Eden Rd
We usually meet on the first Saturday of every month, except that in April this falls on Easter weekend.
If you would like to join the Auckland campaign for a coal-free Aotearoa, or think you can help in some way (even if you can’t attend meetings) please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org
About Auckland Coal Action: “We recognise that coal is the dirtiest of the fossil fuels and that its ongoing use will lead to catastrophic climate change. We aim to achieve a coal-free Aotearoa by 2030, initially by opposing the expansion of coal mining. We do this work to play our part in sustaining a benign climate for us, our children and grandchildren.”
Two meetings on coal and related issues have been held in Whanganui recently: one on Denniston in the leadup to the Denniston BioBlitz (see below), which attracted about 50 people, and one in mid-March on fracking.
Kathryn Goodman has done a great job organising these meetings, and we hope that there will be more to come. If you are in the Whanganui/Manawatu region and would like to know more, or can help, please contact Kathryn: email@example.com
Wellington people who attended the Keep the Coal in the Hole Summer Festival got together with other Wellington members of CANA to report back from the Festival and discuss strategies and actions for the year ahead on 1 March. The first of these actions was the protest against the opening of Bathurst Mining’s new Wellington office, reported below.
The Wellington list plans to keep in touch, get involved in organising actions, and meet every couple of months. If you’d like to get involved, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Rachel Eyre reports:
‘Canterbury Coal Action’ Meeting Summary: 7th March 2012, 7.30pm @ WEA
“After the Summer Festival the Canterbury Group is keen to get involved in assisting the culture change away from coal.
At our first meeting we discussed what the group could do to target Solid Energy; to draw attention to the absurdity of its plans.
We also plan to up-skill members to be able to work with community groups and to create or gather resources for sharing e.g. DVDs, songs, films, etc.
Finally, we are close to agreeing a summary of our group purpose and objectives that support the CANA national objectives. This will be available on our new blog shortly: http://canterburycoalaction.blogspot.co.nz/
We are hoping to hold our meetings first Wednesday in the month 7.30pm at the WEA in Gloucester Street, Christchurch. Next meeting 4th April. For further information please contact email@example.com ”
About 70 people attended a public meeting in Washdkye, just north of Timaru, entitled “Keep the coal in the hole and out of Washdyke”: http://www.transitiontowns.org.nz/node/3409
Here is the report of the meeting in the Timaru Herald: http://www.stuff.co.nz/timaru-herald/news/6451128/Coal-in-lead-for-Washdyke-boilers
If you would like to know more or get involved, please contact Transition Timaru: http://www.transitiontowns.org.nz/timaru
Rosemary Penwarden from Southern Anti-Coal Action reports:
“Eleven of us met for a meal and cuppa at Clubs and Socs, Otago Uni, Dunedin, on Monday 27 Feb. It was cool to see familiar faces from the Summerfest, and to meet others who couldn’t come to Mataura. We planned a second meeting on Thursday, 15 March at 6pm, Clubs and Socs, to talk strategy.”
On Tuesday 27 March, 6-10pm, SACA is hosting Franklin López, director of End:Civ, at Clubs and Socs Everson Lounge, for film, discussion and food. End:Civ, a film about the role of direct action in climate justice campaigns, toured last year with Canadian anarchist/academic Ron Sakolski and poet Sheila Nopper. Franklin López’s current film project ‘Stop the Flows’ involves interviewing activists from all over the world to show that wherever there is fossil fuel extraction there is resistance. He is keen to include New Zealanders in this project.
You can find more info and watch the latest chapter here: http://stoptheflows.tumblr.com/
Here is a link to our Facebook event:
We also discussed holding regular film evenings in our area, involving other groups but open to the public, with a mind to building awareness in the wider community.
SACA has T-shirts for sale – recycled, locally printed – “leave the lignite – save the soil” and “keep the coal in the hole”, available from Black Star Books, Dunedin.
Jenny Campbell reports:
“The relationship building, mutual support and sense of purpose which came to Southland as a result of the national ‘Keep the Coal in the Hole’ Summer Festival weekend in Mataura, in January has helped build up our local group and solidarity for action!
We have decided to meet monthly, plan a few events strategically to conserve our energy for the long haul and endeavour to bring people in to our group to share the load and offer their skills. Our name after much consideration is CAM – Coal Action Murihiku.
Waimumu Field days, a huge agricultural event similar to Mystery Creek (estimated 35,500 people there), in mid-February became a low key event for us due to only a few people being available on the 3 days – many were staffing other stalls. Excellent thought provoking, poignant and factual flyers were created by Zella Horrell with themes of farming concerns/issues but leafletting of 6000 vehicles as planned was thwarted with a notice forbidding it – at a fine of $1000! This was understandable, as litter had been an issue in previous years. However several of us wandered the site handing the leaflets out and having intentional conversations which were very productive and probably more use as an awareness raising method.
An Environment Southland Public Forum saw Dave Kennedy, local Green Party national election candidate, and Robina-Lee Johnston who farms adjacent to Solid Energy land speak about their concerns around lignite mining to the ES Councillors for 25 minutes in February. They had been allocated 10 minutes, but councillors wanted to hear more.
Robina-Lee showed a power point with photos of mining in Australia, where she spent time last year, as well as her own situation on the farm she and her husband owns near Dolamore Park – a native bush area. The photos were very powerful and left a strong impression. One Councillor was heard to comment about not needing ‘Club Med’ there in reference to Solid Energy’s recreational lake concept!
March saw a fundraising trail bike ride on Johnston’s property with a small but enthusiastic group enjoying fine dry conditions in the morning followed by a wet and muddy course in the afternoon – which appealed to many, though! A sumptuous barbecue lunch in the woolshed allowed for lignite resources to be shared, photos of mines discussed and pertinent discussions developed. Proceeds of about $300 was raised by the Lower Mataura Landcare group for use by local Enviro schools and CAM.
A public talk by the author of the ‘Just Lignite’ booklet, Rosemary Penwarden, to the women’s group Desert Air ( aptly renamed Desert Storm for the day) along with some visitors in Invercargill, challenged us all. Rosemary spoke about her concerns for future generations and her passion around the issues, particularly climate change and lignite, in the light of the birth of her grandson recently. People there shared what is happening in Southland relating to environmental issues and their responses, which gave her an insight in to the commitment and energy here.
Rosemary’s talk gave people a lift, raised their hope and provided a positive focus through her sharing her vision for a better future we are all responsible for. ‘The power of one’! Thank you Rosemary.”
4. The Denniston Campaign
Australian mining company Bathurst Resources has relocated to New Zealand and is trying to open a massive new coalmine on the Denniston Plateau on the West Coast, with the eager support of the current Government. A coalition of groups, among them Coal Action Network Aotearoa, is working to oppose this mine because of its effects on the local environment, on biodiversity, and on the climate. There have been two significant events in the campaign this month:
a) Bathurst Wellington office opening protest
John Key officiated at the opening of Bathurst’s new Wellington office on Wednesday 21 March, and a coalition of groups including CANA, Forest and Bird, 350.org, Generation Zero, Ora Taiao, ECO and WWF-NZ organised a gathering on the pavement outside to let Bathurst know what we thought of their mining plans, and let Mr Key know what we thought of his public support for those plans. Here is my report from the CANA blog: Bathurst Protest A Big Success
b) Denniston BioBlitz
The Bathurst protest was not the only Denniston-related event this month. On the weekend of 3-4 March, Forest and Bird held their Denniston BioBlitz to find as many new species as they could on the plateau. Now you can see the Denniston BioBlitz film, which shows the wonderful biodiversity of the Denniston Plateau, and contrasts it with the ugliness of the Stockton mine: http://youtu.be/z0TGvAK7RpA.
5. Coming Events
In addition the events listed above under “The Network Goes Nationwide”, look out for these events:
27 March: The declaratory judgement on whether the courts can consider climate change under the Resource Management Act will be heard at 10 am on 27 March at the Maori Land Court in Christchurch.
5 April: On the morning of 5 April State Owned Enterprise Solid Energy accounts for its performance in the year to June 2011 to Parliament’s Commerce Committee. The session is open to the public (to observe, not to speak).
28 April: Anti-asset-sales march in Auckland, 3pm, Britomart
6. Keeping Solid Energy Under Control
Solid Energy is already bad, bad news for our environment and the world’s climate. It’s a disgrace that a fully state-owned corporation is allowed to behave the way Solid Energy does, and that the Government hides behind Don Elder when pressed to take responsibility for Solid Energy’s actions.
Nevertheless, it would be even harder to control Solid Energy if it was partially or fully privatised, or if foreign investors in Solid Energy could sue a future New Zealand Government that tried to impose new environmental regulations, or a greater share of the cost of their greenhouse gas emissions, on the company.
We face both those threats at the moment. One is from the Government’s planned sale of asset sales. The other is from the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement, a new and sweeping multilateral agreement, covering trade, services, investment and a whole lot of other issues, which is currently being negotiated by the US and eight other countries, including New Zealand.
a) Campaign to oppose asset sales
The campaign against state asset sales has kicked into high gear with the announcement that a coalition of groups fronted by Grey Power and the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions, with support from the Labour Party and the Green Party, has initiated a “Citizens Initiated Referendum” which will give New Zealanders the chance to say what they think about the Government’s plans to sell off up to 49% of four state-owned energy companies, of which Solid Energy is expected to be the last to be sold off.
The referendum will not be binding, and it will be some time before it can be held – the wording has to be agreed with the Clerk of the House, and over 300,000 valid signatures have to be collected, before it can go ahead – but the whole referendum process will be highly embarrassing to the Government as it goes about hocking off the nation’s resources.
CANA will be among the groups encouraging the collection of signatures, and we will bring you more details of this. For the moment, though, keep a lookout for more details of the referendum and of other actions against asset sales, including the Aotearoa Is Not For Sale Hikoi and (if you are on Facebook) the Aotearoa Is Not For Sale Facebook Page.
b) Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement
You can find out all about the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement, including the investor-state dispute resolution provisions which, if included in the agreement, could allow foreign investors in Solid Energy to sue a future New Zealand Government that imposed tougher environmental regulations than its predecessors, at the TPP Watch website, with a detailed commentary on environmental and climate change issues in relation to the TPP.
Here is a list of cases brought by investors against national governments under other US “free trade” agreements. There are a lot of them:
Want to know what you can do to oppose the TPPA and such provisions? Check out your options here:
7. “Just Lignite” Booklet Needs Your Support
The Social Justice Commission of the Anglican Church published the information booklet “Just Lignite”, written by one of our CANA organising group members, Rosemary Penwarden from Waitati.
This has been distributed to people for free, thanks to the Commission.
1800 were printed and they were so popular that another printing has been called for by people and groups who have found this an invaluable resource when raising the many issues about the possibility of large scale lignite mining in Mataura, Southland .
However costs are an issue, so feedback to the Commission on the usefulness of the resource would be very helpful.
It would help hugely if you could take a minute to send an email to Commissioner, Rev’d Dr Anthony Dancer at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 04 472 2713 (Wellington).
This could state how useful/ helpful/effective you have found the booklet if you got the chance to read it OR say you would like one if there is a reprint, and even mention other places you could distribute it.
Thank you in anticipation of your action to help.
Rangimarie, Jenny Campbell
8. Fracking Roundup
The issue of fracking (hydraulic fracturing) as a method of mining hydrocarbons is gaining a very high profile at the moment, with coverage on two major media channels last weekend.
Fracking is usually discussed in terms of shale oil and gas production, but it can also be used to mine coal in the form of producing coal seam gas – a process that results in the release of methane, which is a much more potent (though also shorter-lived) greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.
We don’t have space in our newsletter to cover all the news from the anti-fracking campaign, but here are a few links and events to watch out for:
Anti-fracking website: http://fracknz.org/
“Say No To Fracking NZ” Facebook group: http://www.facebook.com/events/230681113695913/#!/groups/saynotofrackingnz/
Public meeting on fracking in Canterbury: Rolleston Community Centre, Rolleston Drive (near New World), Sat 31 March, 7.30pm.
– this meeting includes a showing of the documentary The Gas Rush, which can also be viewed online at http://www.abc.net.au/4corners/content/2011/s3141787.htm
Gareth Hughes’ questions in Parliament recently on why the Government won’t except a moratorium on fracking in New Zealand makes interesting viewing: http://inthehouse.co.nz/node/11563
9. News Snippets
Nelson Mail report on Sid Plant (belated Festival report): http://www.stuff.co.nz/nelson-mail/features/lifestyle/going-green/6437372/Fight-to-keep-coal-in-the-hole
Second slip in a year hits Nightcaps mine: http://www.stuff.co.nz/southland-times/news/6547390/Hillside-east-of-coalmine-slips
10. Campaign Resources
Two classic booklets on the theory and practice of nonviolent direct action in Aoatearoa/New Zealand are now available as a free download from our blog: http://coalactionnetworkaotearoa.wordpress.com/2012/03/02/classic-new-zealand-booklets-on-nonviolent-direct-action-now-available-to-download/
An authoritative report on the health effects of coal from Physicians for Social Responsibility: http://www.psr.org/assets/pdfs/psr-coal-fullreport.pdf
Top climate scientist James Hansen tells the story of his involvement in the science of and debate over global climate change. In doing so he outlines the overwhelming evidence that change is happening: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fWInyaMWBY8
Jeanette Fitzsimons speaks out on asset sales for Auckland Coal Action: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pXEZgh-l1uk