Large Galilee Basin coal projects could be in doubt with Labor EPA

THE LABOR Party may use changes to the Australian Environment Act to enforce provisions concerning the water trigger for dams and pipelines associated with large coal mines to stymie the development of coal projects being proposed for the Galilee Basin in Queensland by Clive Palmer.
Large Galilee Basin coal projects could be in doubt with Labor EPA Large Galilee Basin coal projects could be in doubt with Labor EPA Large Galilee Basin coal projects could be in doubt with Labor EPA Large Galilee Basin coal projects could be in doubt with Labor EPA Large Galilee Basin coal projects could be in doubt with Labor EPA

Investment in large scale coal mining projects may be stymied by new environmental regulation being proposed by the Labor Party.

Clive Palmer's Waratah Coal has two projects earmarked for the region - the Waratah Galilee Coal mine and the Galilee Coal Project (Northern Export Facility) mine.
Adani's controversial Carmichael coal mine in the Galilee Basin has already been approved by the federal government as has Gina Rinehart's Hancock Coal's proposed Alpha and Kevin's Corner mine projects. 
Shadow environment minister Tony Burke said the Labor Party would create an Australian Environment Act and establish a Federal Environmental Protection Agency, which could also impact on the development of large coal projects by making the protection of the Great Barrier Reef a priority. 
"Labor will also establish a new agency, a federal EPA, with the mission to protect Australia's natural environment," he said.
"It will be informed by the best available scientific advice and, ensure compliance with environmental law, and have the ability to conduct public inquiries on important environmental matters.
"The new legal framework will compel the Australian government to actively protect our unique natural environment and demonstrate national leadership."
According to Burke, Labor will establish a high powered working group of experts including scientists, environmental lawyers and public policy thinkers to refine the clear concepts that underpin this reform.  
"The current environment act is now 20 years old and has never been significantly reformed," he said.  
"It is time to bring it into the 21st century. 
"In 2018, it is bizarre that the national environmental law does not properly factor in climate change.
"We will also ensure all stakeholders including states and territories, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representatives, impacted industries and business groups, trade unions and civil society have a seat at the table.
"The Australian Environment Act will aim to tackle problems identified by industry which has identified inefficiencies, delays and hurdles in the current law. The new law will protect the environment while aiming to give business more certainty."
However, Minerals Council of Australia CEO Tania Constable said Labor's Federal EPA would cost jobs and investment.
She said Australia's minerals sector was already struggling with red and green tape that delayed projects, costs jobs and threatens competitiveness.
"Australia's existing layers of environmental regulation include the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Act - due for statutory review in 2019 - an Independent Scientific Committee on coal seam gas and coal mining projects and a Federal Department of the Environment," Constable said.
"Yet rather than making existing environmental regulation more effective and efficient, Labor will add another layer of green bureaucracy which will cost jobs, discourage investment and make it easier for  activists to disrupt and delay projects.
"A one-year delay can reduce the net present value of a major mining project - project value of between $3 billion and $4 billion - by up to 13% and cost up to $1 million every day."
Analysis by the Department of the Environment in 2014 concluded streamlining federal and state environmental approvals would save Australian businesses $426 million annually.
The Productivity Commission concluded in 2013 that overlap and duplication between federal and state processes could be greatly reduced without lowering the quality of environmental outcomes.
"Labor will not grow the Australian economy by making it more difficult for minerals companies to create jobs and support regional communities," Constable said.