“The Government was worried about Solid Energy’s ambitious investment plans and rosy view of coal prices as far back as 2009 but was unable to order the company to steer a safer course, Prime Minister John Key says.” (26 February 2013, New Zealand Herald.)
Gee, that’s a surprise, Mr Prime Minister! Because here’s what you said on 3 June 2011:
“Speaking in Invercargill yesterday, Mr Key said he supported Solid Energy’s plan to dig up lignite and turn it into briquettes, saying the Government wanted companies such as Solid Energy, which is Government-owned, to expand.” (PM backs mining south’s lignite, Southland Times)
And here is a picture from the National Party’s own photo stream of John Key’s deputy, Bill English, turning the first sod for Solid Energy’s pilot lignite briquetting plant – a plant which now lies useless in the middle of the Mataura Valley:
Don Elder and Bill English: So happy together
Isn’t it nice the way Don lets Bill take the lead? Isn’t it nice the way they both smile for the camera? Isn’t it a pity how rats fight to be first to leave the sinking ship?
Monday 12 September 2011
FOR IMMEDIATE USE
Coal Action Network Aotearoa today echoed the Deputy Prime Minister’s claim that the beginning of construction on Solid Energy’s planned plant to convert lignite to briquettes in Southland was ‘very significant for New Zealand and hugely significant for Eastern Southland,’ but said that significance was due to the huge climate impacts lignite mining would have.
“Bill English is right that the lignite plant, and the larger plants Solid Energy wants to build in its wake, are very significant,” said Coal Action Network Aotearoa spokesperson Frances Mountier. “Unfortunately, he is completely wrong about what that significance is.”
“Developing lignite is very significant for New Zealand because of the massive increase in greenhouse gas emissions that will result from mining and ultimately burning the lignite, which is a low-quality, dirty brown coal,” Ms Mountier continued. “And it’s hugely significant to Eastern Southland because of the extensive damage which large-scale lignite mining would cause to air quality, living conditions, and the high-quality rivers and streams on which Southland depends.”
“Fortunately,” said Ms Mountier, “Bill English’s grandiose claims aren’t matched by the reality on the ground. The only thing Solid Energy has got permission to build at present is a comparatively small-scale pilot plant. Even Solid Energy are claiming it will only employ thirteen full-time staff when built.”
“While Bill English and Solid Energy’s Don Elder are busy patting each other on the back,” Frances Mountier concluded, “people all around the country are working to roll back the damage this Government is doing to New Zealand’s environment and our international reputation. Our advice to Bill English is: stop sniffing the lignite and try sniffing the air instead.”