Sometimes we have laws, and sometimes it’s the wrong time for them
A judgement today in a minor NSW court banned a coal mine in the hope of making storms and floods nicer for our great grandchildren. Curiously, it was not the much hated thermal coal mine, it was a coking coal mine – the stuff we use in making steel. It takes 600 kilograms of coal to make one ton of steel and Australian coking coal is considered some of the world’s best. It follows that either the world uses a bit less steel, or it buys the coal from somewhere else. Does the judge have something against steel? Let’s melt down wind turbines and solar panels instead.
Most likely the world will buy the coal from somewhere else. It will likely be less pure and more polluting with few environmental controls or worker’s rights, but hey-de-ho, Judge Preston is not there to worry about environmental global concerns. It’s not like he’s a judge in the NSW Land and Environment Court. Oh…
Effectively, an Australian court decided to increase global pollution by blocking a clean coal mine*. As usual, there is no scientific or legal consistency; No principle apart from impressing people at dinner parties?
[Perry Williams, The Australian]
An unprecedented court ruling that links Australia’s coalmines to global climate change may place a $100 billion pipeline of fossil fuel developments in peril.
But who needs money? (Or steel…)
Bear in mind the decision may be appealed. (More money for lawyers).
Tick, tock, time to be legal?
Strangely the judge concludes that moving 0.03% of global coal production from Australia this year to China next year will make the world a better place for the NSW taxpayers who fund his salary.
The developer of the mine, Gloucester Resources — controlled by German mining billionaire Hans Mende — aimed to produce 2.5 million tonnes a year of coal from the open-cut mine 3km south of Gloucester.
But development consent was refused, with the court’s chief judge Brian Preston …concluding the mine “would be in the wrong place at the wrong time”. “The project will be a material source of greenhouse emissions and contribute to climate change,” Justice Preston said.
If this project was disapproved because the locals hated it, or the company was negligent, or it really did threaten the spotted quoll, there might be good reasons to say no. It was apparently rejected by NSW Department of Planning and Environment and the state’s Planning Assessment Commission (so I wonder why the environment court needed to pass judgement?), but the judge specifically said this was a climate change decision. It’s brazen. It sets a new precedent. Was that the point — to scare away investors?
Pollution from the coalmine would increase global emission levels “at a time when what is now urgently needed, in order to meet generally agreed climate targets, is a rapid and deep decrease in emissions”, Justice Preston said. “These dire consequences should be avoided. The project should be refused.”
He [Mr Morris, from the EDO] noted that the “wrong time” legal concept may be used in future cases involving fossil-fuel projects.
What “wrong time” legal concept?
The court determined that the project would not assist in meeting climate change targets in the second half of the century.
So we need a free market to decide the best way to meet carbon targets except when we need an unelected bureaucrat?
If coal mines can be banned for legal “climate reasons” so could practically anything.
As Chris Kenny says, “Taxpayers’ money used to deliberately attack our No 1 export.”
The EDO [Environmental Defenders Office] fought the mine on behalf of local residents group Groundswell Gloucester.
And former principal EDO lawyer became The Judge:
…the court’s chief judge Brian Preston [was] a former principal solicitor at the EDO — …
So it’s not like the Judge was a former activist for the environment then?
I thought “we the people” elected representatives to make these sort of judgement calls and face the music at polling booth? Instead the cowardly MP’s farmed out the decisions years ago to professional lobbyists. Bit by bit the Deep State takes more power from the people.
I should add:
The Telegraph is not suggesting any bias on the part of Judge Preston…
The Council of Chief Justices of Australia’s most recent Guide to Judicial Conduct said judges may need to disqualify themselves from matters if their relationship to a “litigant community organisation” creates even the perception of bias. It also strictly warns judges not to hold “strong views” on matters they will preside over in court.
Read on. “Strong views” are sure held by this judge when it comes to global warming.
And the judge, by the way, took no evidence from a single climate scientist about the positive effects…
h/t Brendan, Graham Dunton.
*Clean coal means clean coal here, coal with less pollution. This is not “Clean Coal”TM a frivolous ambiguous term used to mean the act of stuffing a useful fertilizer into a useless hole in the ground.