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Adani’s Carmichael coal mine project in the soup; Federal Court reconsiders proposal

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The approval of Adani’s Carmichael coal mine in central Queensland is facing problems and has been declared invalid by the Federal Court stating that the environment minister had not properly considered advice regarding two vulnerable species.

By NewsGram Staff Writer

Photo credit: Livemint
Photo credit: Livemint

The $16 billion coal mine and 189 km rail link, which was approved by the Federal Government in July 2014, is being reconsidered by the court after it came to light that Environment Minister Greg Hunt had not properly consulted with experts about the yakka skink and the ornamental snake, both the species close to extinction.

The court’s order was challenged by the Mackay Conservation Group, an environmental organisation in the Mackay region in Queensland, Australia, in January arguing that the impacts of the project on the climate and threatened species had not been properly addressed.

The court ruling has been consented to by Indian company Adani and the Federal Government.

The court statement says, “This is a technical, administrative matter and to remove this doubt, the department has advised that the decision should be reconsidered.”

“Without pre-empting a final decision about the project, the department expects that it will take six to eight weeks to prepare its advice and the supporting documentation, and for the Minister to reconsider his final decision.”

Environmental Defenders Office principal solicitor Sue Higginson, who represents the Mackay Conservation Group, said: “What can happen from here is the Minister can re-make his decision, and of course in remaking that decision he can approve the mine again following the proper legal procedures, or he can refuse the mine; that is the legal power open to the Minister.”

If approved, the proposed Carmichael mine would have been Australia’s largest coal mine exporting up to 60 million tonnes of coal from across the Great Barrier Reef Coast every year.

Adani said that the company will ensure that the mine, rail and port projects in Queensland will be developed keeping in mind the environmental conditions.

Adani said that the approval did include appropriate conditions to manage the species protection of the yakka skink and ornamental snake “but we have been advised that, because certain documents were not presented by the Department in finalising the approval, it created a technical legal vulnerability that is better to address now.”

Queensland Resources Council chief executive Michael Roche said that “legal loopholes” provided the necessary grounds for anti-coal activists to delay billions of dollars in investment and thousands of jobs.

State Mines Minister Anthony Lynham said, “There’s been a judicial review and I believe it’s a technical error, but we’re asking the Federal Government, and the Federal Environment Minister to sort this out as quickly as possible.”

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Queensland in Australia to Combat Diseases And Deaths Caused by Climate-change

Forecasters say southeastern Australia can expect more unusually warm and dry conditions in the coming months

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Queensland, Australia, Hindu
FILE - A dead tree stands near a water tank in a drought-stricken paddock located on the outskirts of the southwestern Queensland town of Cunnamulla in outback Australia, Aug. 10, 2017. (VOA)

The Queensland state government in Australia is to fund a new program to help combat killer heatwaves and outbreaks of disease caused by climate change. Authorities are even discussing imposing tobacco-style taxes against carbon polluters. The initiative comes as the United Nation chief warned that if the world does not take serious action by 2020, it risks the fallout from “runaway climate change.”

The plan to tackle climate-related disease and deaths from heatwaves is part of the Queensland government’s efforts to cut the state’s carbon emissions to zero by 2050.

The strategy urges bureaucrats and executives to consider health impacts when assessing mining and energy projects. It also encourages the government not to subsidize “activities harmful to health and climate stability”.

It identifies heat stress among children and the elderly as the main concern for the future. Heatwaves are Australia’s biggest natural hazard, killing more people than droughts, floods and bush fires put together.

Other climate-driven health fears are “food and water insecurity, malnutrition, worsening [and] cardiovascular and respiratory” illnesses.

Fiona Armstrong, the head of the Climate and Health Alliance, which helped draw up the plan, said wild conditions can kill.

“You only need to look at the example of thunderstorm asthma in Melbourne a couple of years ago to see how these kinds of events, even though they might be predicted, can really take the sector and the community by surprise,” Armstrong said.

Australia
Tire tracks left by a truck can be seen in a drought-stricken paddock on Kahmoo Station property, located on the outskirts of the southwestern Queensland town of Cunnamulla in outback Australia, Aug. 10, 2017. (VOA)

Thunderstorm asthma can be triggered when storms play havoc with pollen, causing potentially fatal respiratory problems.

The Queensland plan also identifies the increased risk of mental illness among those affected by a worsening drought that has gripped much of eastern Australia, including much of Queensland and the entire state of New South Wales.

Queensland farmer Sid Plant said federal authorities are not doing enough.

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“Politicians do not seem to want to recognize that climate change is affecting Australia’s farmers. We are feeling the pain as early as anybody in the world. We are not living in the same climate that we were 20 years ago or 50 years ago,” said Plant.

Forecasters say southeastern Australia can expect more unusually warm and dry conditions in the coming months.

Some Australians doubt man’s influence on the climate, insisting that a shifting climate is part of a natural cycle. However, that remains a minority view. (VOA)