Last Friday the Victorian Environment Protection Authority (EPA) gave a works approval to a new coal-fired power station in the Latrobe Valley in Victoria. The HRL Dual-gas proposal will create millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide per year if built.
In the 2010 election campaign, Julia Gillard promised that no dirty new coal-fired power stations would ever be built in Australia. Gillard’s credibility is now on the line as the Federal Government continues to pledge $100 million of taxpayer money to the project. The emissions of the HRL plant will be around 0.8 tonnes of carbon dioxide per megawatt hour of energy generated. This is about the same as a black coal-fired power station and double the OECD average for coal-fired power stations.
Despite the spin from HRL, this is a dirty technology using a dirty fuel that should be left in the ground.
It is great news that all four of the big Australian banks are refusing to finance this project. However, to ensure it is never built, the state and federal governments need to withdraw their funding.
The EPA’s decision was made within the legislative framework that governs it. However, the question needs to be asked, if the EPA cannot say no to a new coal-fired power station, despite the extreme urgency and severity of the climate crisis that we face, then why does it even exist?