Archive for the ‘National’ Category
Turnbull’s #Innovation and #IdeasBoom is to flog fossil fuels. KaBOOM! Independent Australia Tracey Anton 28 May 2016 “………In an article in Crikey by Paddy Manning, entitled ‘Hunt pins hopes on uncompetitive clean coal technology’, Manning writes:
White told Manning:
‘..It halves CO2 emissions and will be eligible for Emissions Reduction Funding under Direct Action policies.’
Not only was White in financial trouble prior to receiving over $20 million in “grants” for the DICE project but he had also incurred a loss of $6 million in the 2012 calendar year.
White is an old Liberal heavyweight who was former Prime Minister John Howard’s right hand man in developing the Uranium Industry Framework for Australia’s nuclear future and just happens to hold dominion over thousands of square kilometres in Gippsland through the company he is shareholder and founder of, Ignite Energy Resources. He also has an uncanny knack of developing new coal technology which will reward him benefits under the Coalition’s Direct Action climate policy that he advised on.
Then there were the concerns over a $3 billion port in Gippsland when White, allegedly, was head of the (GRID) panel on transport infrastructure. That would go with his planned open cut coal minein the groundwater depleted area of Gelliondale.
Next, was the inclusion of biomass (another “clean” energy project) in the Renewable Energy Target securing White feedstock from our Gippsland forests. Now, he is telling government that his Gippsland Gas project will provide an abundance of “clean, agricultural quality” extracted water from his proposed biogenic coal gas project in the water stressed area of South Gippsland. Simply put, it is coal seam gas with the same destructive intrusions and the same hazards.
White’s most grandiose venture was to produce nuclear energy for the world by turning uranium into nuclear fuel rods, leasing them and bringing back the waste (including plutonium from the U.S. weapons industry). It’s interesting that Ignite holds leases for thorium adjacent to the iconic Ninety Mile Beach in Gippsland. Thorium – uranium’s young sister – is hailed by nuclear proponents as the green energy source of the future.
Only problem is, its exploration and mining is banned in Victoria. Bizarrely, when IA‘s Sandi Keane and I reported on White’s involvement in Ignite (‘Victorian government ignores Gippsland gasfield concerns’), the Minerals Council of Victoria rather stupidly tried to get the article pulled. They claimed we’d got the WRONG John White. We didn’t. It was a desperate act by MCA. You can find the whole story here. It seems the reason they wanted us to pull the article was because they’d applied to the former state LNP government to have the legislation banning exploration and mining of thorium and uranium repealed and didn’t want White’s name mentioned. Welcome to the shadowy world of Dr White.https://independentaustralia.net/politics/politics-display/turnbulls-innovation-and-ideasboom-is-to-flog-fossil-fuels-kaboom,9038
Australia gets UNESCO to ignore plight of Great Barrier Reef, Kakadu National Park and Tasmanian WildernessMay 30, 2016
Australia covered up UN climate change fears for Tasmania forests and Kakadu
Fears about damage to the Great Barrier Reef were removed from UN report along with concern about a threat to the environment in two other heritage sites, Guardian, Michael Slezak, 29 May 16, A draft UN report on climate change, which was scrubbed of all reference to Australia over fears it could deter visitors to the Great Barrier Reef, also outlined possible threats to the Tasmania wilderness and Kakadu.
The draft report contained a chapter on the Great Barrier Reef, which described climate change as “the biggest long-term threat to the [reef] today, and to its ecosystems services, biodiversity, heritage values and tourism economy”.
It concluded that “without a comprehensive response more in keeping with the scale of the threat, the [reef]’s extraordinary biodiversity and natural beauty may lose its world heritage values”.
But before it was scrubbed, the report had two other key sections on Australian world heritage sites, and the threats they face from climate change.
One of those sections was on the Tasmanian wilderness…….the censored section of the Unesco report on Tasmania is clear about the “dire” nature of the threat.
It said: “A 2013 assessment of climate threats identified the same habitats as at high risk from greater fire frequency and drier conditions, with likely catastrophic implications for fauna. These dire predictions appeared to be playing out in January 2016, when tens of thousands of hectares of forest burned, sparked by lightning strikes that came in a month when temperatures were 2C above average and in the wake of the driest two-year period ever recorded for the region.”
The deleted section on Kakadu national park contained similarly dire warnings.
It described the important natural and cultural values of Kakadu, which has been inhabited by Aboriginal people for 50,000 years.
“The thousands of rock art sites in the park are at risk from damage by more extreme rainfall events, while sea level rise is happening at twice the global average along the northern Australian coast,” the draft report said.
It warned that fresh-water wetlands were at risk from sea level rise, as they are likely to be inundated with salt water. “Climate change threatens Aboriginal traditional use by altering the ecosystems of the vast wetlands of Kakadu and raising temperatures to a level likely to lead to more intense fire regimes,” the report said.
The final version of the report entitled “World heritage and tourism in a changing climate” was published last week by Unesco, United Nationsenvironment programme and the Union of Concerned Scientists, with all references to Australia removed.
The lead author of the report, Adam Markham, told Guardian Australia: “I was shocked when I read in the Guardian the reasons the Australian government gave for why they had pressured Unesco to drop the Australian sites.” http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/may/29/australia-covered-up-un-climate-change-fears-for-tasmania-forests-and-kakadu
The economy, health and education have been the focus of the first three weeks of the campaign.
However, the environment has proven to be a well-trodden battleground in federal elections over the past two decades.
Tony Abbott’s crusade against Labor’s carbon tax helped propel him into office in 2013, despite Kevin Rudd’s best efforts to bring forward the start of the emissions trading scheme.
In 2010, both major parties made announcements on climate change, the health of the Murray-Darling system, marine parks, Queensland’s controversial wild rivers laws and forestry.
In 2007, Rudd’s promise to ratify the Kyoto protocol and take strong action on climate change helped convince thousands of voters to unseat the Howard coalition government.
John Howard himself kicked around the idea of an emissions trading scheme, having realised tackling issues such as water and climate were not only good for the environment but made economic and electoral sense.
Turnbull was rolled by his own party in 2009 over his support for Labor’s ETS and has been forced to embrace Abbott’s direct action plan, despite evidence of its ineffectiveness and voter confusion over what he really believes. Shorten says separate emissions trading schemes for the electricity sector and industry, coupled with a target of 50 per cent renewable energy by 2030, is the way to go.
For both major parties, there are votes to be won in talking up the benefits of jobs and economic growth from renewable energy, clean technology, greener farming practices and ensuring the long-term health of the Great Barrier Reef.
There are big electoral benefits for strong environmental policy.
Younger voters, especially, rate climate and the environment among their top concerns and if Labor or the coalition are to woo them away from the Greens they will need to come out early with some impressive policy.
A policy misstep by Labor could cost the party valuable Greens preferences.
I am in fact, in favour of the Citizens’ Jury Idea. Instead of us being ‘talked down to’ by experts, (who are likely to have a vested interest in the nuclear waste import plan), ordinary non experts hear all the evidence and opposing opinions, discuss these, and come up with a sensible verdict.
After all, that is what we expect in a criminal trial. We do not trust the verdict to “experts” although we do expect their opinions to be heard.
My problem with the South Australia’s Citizens’ Jury on nuclear waste importing is that it doesn’t seem to be given a truly jury role.
The letter sent to potential jury participants says that their task will be to produce an independent guide to help every South Australian understand the recommendations raised by the Royal Commission’s report.
No mention of a verdict on whether or not the jury thinks that the nuclear waste import plan should go ahead.
The organisation running the process, newDemocracy, is using a trademarked definition of ‘Citizens’ Jury’ That trademark belongs to the Jefferson Center. They define the term;
The Citizens Jury convenes diverse groups of citizens to study an issue deeply, discuss different perspectives on the issue,and recommend a course of action or craft their own solutions to address the issue at hand.
I would like to give newDemocracy the benefit of the doubt. Their all too brief notes on this plan do end with this statement:
The first stage of the project will run from May through November 2016, and results in a gateway decision as to whether or not there is broad social consent to continue to pursue opportunities related to the Nuclear Fuel Cycle.
Homer Simpson and nuclear politics as France shows the way for SA, Fin Rev 23 May 16 by Simon Evans Nigel McBride, the chief executive of Business SA, the organisation that oversees the interests of more than 46,000 businesses in South Australia, has just returned from Finland and France, where he researched the nuclear waste industry.
He is convinced there would be no detrimental impact to the image of prime wine regions such as the Barossa Valley, McLaren Vale, Clare Valley and the Coonawarra from having an underground storage facility elsewhere in the state.
“We’re not going to have any overt signs anywhere,” Mr McBride told reporters in Adelaide on Monday………
Mitchell Taylor, the managing director of Taylors Wines, which has operations in the Clare Valley, Adelaide Hills, McLaren Vale and the Coonawarra, said the most sensible thing would be to locate any future nuclear waste storage facility in arid lands hundreds of kilometres away from agricultural land.
“You wouldn’t put it close to agricultural land,” he said…….
From an overseas marketing viewpoint, Mr Taylor said he didn’t think it would have any impact on the image of South Australian wines and premium food, provided the two were kept separate.
“You’ve got to get politics out of it,” he said.
Mr McBride said the regulatory model in Finland was a good benchmark, and there had been too much simplistic criticism of a nuclear industry based on what he termed “The Simpson’s model” taken from the popular cartoon series where a hapless Homer Simpson works at the Springfield nuclear power plant.
A final report by royal commissioner Kevin Scarce in early May recommended the state set up a nuclear waste storage facility to generate $100 billion in profits over the project’s forecast 120-year life, with Mr Weatherill saying he would make a decision by the end of the year after an extensive community consultation process, on whether to proceed. http://www.afr.com/it-pro/homer-simpson-and-nuclear-politics-as-france-shows-the-way-for-sa-20160522-gp1851
South Australia’s Nuclear Royal Commission very vague on financial aspects of their waste import planMay 23, 2016
The Commission is very vague on the nature of the public- private partnership that will pay for the capital costs of AS 41$billion (Ch 5 p.100)
The revenue would be paid on delivery of wastes to a South Australian port. That will be after the 20 – 30 years it will take to construct the facility, plus 10 years after the project begins operation.-
“a pre-commitment before project commencement would provide added assurance that capital costs are fully covered before construction began” (But after a commitment 40 years before, a foreign nuclear company could have gone bankrupt” (Ch 5 p. 100 -102) Finland.http://yoursay.sa.gov.au/system/NFCRC_Final_Report_Web.pdf
It looks as if the customers for the nuclear waste import business could be dodgy Asian and Middle Easter ones, with unstable politics. The Commission does not name any countries as potential customers, but DOES RULE OUT countries that will NOT be – i.e. United States, France, the United Kingdom and Canada, and countries which have national laws that prohibit their export of waste, such as Sweden and Finland.
So – the customers ruled out are the ones with stable political and economic systems, AND with experience and technical knowledge about nuclear power http://yoursay.sa.gov.au/system/NFCRC_Final_Report_Web.pdf CH 5 p.93.
Andrew Allison 23 May 16 Here is my assessment of “NUCLEAR FUEL CYCLE ROYAL COMMISSION – FINAL RECOMMENDATIONS Copied from Pg. 169 of the Commission’s final report, and republished here for the purpose of discussion.
Based on the findings set out in this report, the Commission recommends that the South Australian Government:
1. pursue the simplification of state and federal mining approval requirements for radioactive ores, to deliver a single assessment and approvals process
AA: The devil is in the detail for this one. The word “simplification” could be code for reducing environmental standards, or allowing corporations to avoid the consequences of their actions. I am suspicious.
2. further enhance the integration and public availability of pre-competitive geophysical data in South Australia
AA: It depends who owns the data. If a corporation has collected the data then it is part of the intellectual property of that corporation. It is difficult to see how they could be forced to share it, by a state government. If the data were collected by the state government then one would have to ask why she state government is investing in prospecting for nuclear materials. This is in an era where state governments supposedly cannot operate water utilities, banks, gas companies, public transport etc etc…. Why are they breaking their own laws to prospect for nuclear materials?
3. undertake further geophysical surveys in priority areas, where mineral prospectivity is high and available data is limited
AA: This is a matter for the corporations, subject to regulatory approval.
AA: Readers may remember that Marathon resources breached environmental guidelines in The Flinders Ranges in 2012. We cannot allow this. I don’t see why the resources of the state should be spent prospecting on behalf of mining companies.
4. commit to increased, long-term and counter-cyclical investment in programs such as the Plan for Accelerating Exploration (PACE) to encourage and support industry investment in the exploration of greenfield locations
AA: Once again, this is a purely commercial matter. I don’t see why the state government should be investing money in this. There are much more efficient ways of carrying out counter-cyclical Keynesian investment, than exploring for nuclear materials. We could invest in schools, and hospitals and public transport infrastructure, for example.
5. ensure the full costs of decommissioning and remediation with respect to radioactive ore mining projects are secured in advance from miners through associated guarantees
AA: This seems to be very sensible to me. I ask the question: aren’t we already doing this? See the reference to marathon resources, above.
6. remove at the state level, and pursue removal of at the federal level, existing prohibitions on the licensing of further processing activities, to enable commercial development of multilateral facilities as part of nuclear fuel leasing arrangements
AA: In my view, the existing laws are in place to protect public safety and no good case has been made to overturn them. There is currently a glut of Uranium on the world market. The prices are low. To increase the supply of Uranium at this time would only depress the price further and affect the viability of existing producers.
7. promote and actively support commercialisation strategies for the increased and more efficient use of the cyclotron at the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI)
AA: The limited and controlled use of nuclear technology in medicine has been shown to be beneficial. I don’t see any logic in expanding the program, unless there is a demonstrated need that is currently not being met in South Australia.
AA: The use of cyclotrons should be carefully regulated, since they can be used to enrich fuel, leading to weapons proliferation:
8. pursue removal at the federal level of existing prohibitions on nuclear power generation to allow it to contribute to a low-carbon electricity system, if required
AA: It is very doubtful that nuclear energy is “low carbon”, if one considers the entire fuel cycle.
9. promote and collaborate on the development of a comprehensive national energy policy that enables all technologies, including nuclear, to contribute to a reliable, low-carbon electricity network at the lowest possible system cost
AA: Of course, a centralized government energy policy that was oriented towards the needs of the people would be sensible. Unfortunately state governments were in a rush to privatize their energy assets (or to lease out monopolies on a long-term basis) so the control of the system has been relinquished to corporations, for the time being. The Royal Commission has admitted that there is no commercial basis for nuclear power, in Australia, for the foreseeable future.
10. collaborate with the Australian Government to commission expert monitoring and reporting on the commercialisation of new nuclear reactor designs that may offer economic value for nuclear power generation
AA: I will believe in “Generation IV” nuclear power stations when I see one actually operating. In the mean time, we do have to consider the opportunity cost associated with investing Australia’s limited research dollars on a technology that Australia does not even use, and will not use for the foreseeable future.
11. pursue the opportunity to establish used nuclear fuel and intermediate level waste storage and disposal facilities in South Australia consistent with the process and principles outlined in Chapter 10 of this report
AA: I am very curious to know why the Royal Commission is in such a hurry for South Australia to commit to a facility that may not even work, and will not actually hold any nuclear waste for over eighty years. I think that it would be much more prudent for South Australia to watch technological developments elsewhere in the world before committing to such a great an irreversible development as a nuclear waste dump. We should note that no country has yet completely solved the nuclear waste storage problem, not even the former nuclear superpowers, the USA and Russia.
12. remove the legislative constraint in section 13 of the Nuclear Waste Storage Facility (Prohibition) Act 2000 that would preclude an orderly, detailed and thorough analysis and discussion of the opportunity to establish such facilities in South Australia.”
AA: I argue that this legislation serves an important public safety purpose. A convincing case has not yet been made to remove this important piece of safety legislation. The “economic” analysis of the Royal commission is mostly based on the opinion of one consultant, in the Jacobs report. The assumptions that were made in this report are very generous to the pro-dump case.
Founder of uranium industry lobby group chosen for South Australian “independent” nuclear consultation agencyMay 19, 2016
The South Australian government will make the decision on whether or not to make that State become the world’s nuclear toilet.
However, they’ll still go through a process of informing and consulting the community, beforehand. That will be the job of the new Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission Consultation and Response Agency :-
It will “draw upon existing government expertise and expertise from the Royal Commission itself to to increase awareness of the Royal Commission’s report and facilitate the community consultation process.”
The other one, Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission Consultation and Response Advisory Board, will oversee the Agency throughout the consultation process. That’s the one chaired by John Mansfield, and with Adjunct Professor Daniela Stehlik, Rebecca Huntley, Professor Deb White, and Parry Agius.
I don’t think that Parry Agius should be on this supposedly independent Board. He is a founding member of the Australian Uranium Association’s Indigenous Dialogue Group. He’s also been a member of the Resources Industry Development Board in South Australia.