Monthly Archives: July 2011

CAN Aotearoa July newsletter

Coal Action Network Aotearoa Newsletter

July 2011


Kia ora koutou,

Welcome to the July edition of the Coal Action Network Aotearoa monthly newsletter – and a special welcome to those receiving this newsletter for the first time.

This newsletter is coming out earlier than usual because the Coal Action Network Aotearoa organising group is getting ready for one of our six-monthly get-togethers in person. Most of the time, we operate by teleconference, but later this month we’ll be meeting to review the progress of the campaign and look at what needs to be done leading up to next summer.

If you have comments about what we should be focusing on, please send them to the lignite-campaign-discuss list (see below for how to do this).

In the August and September newsletters, expect to hear some news about new aspects of our campaign to stop the expansion of lignite mining in Southland, and the expansion of coal mining in New Zealand.

Regards

Tim Jones

for the Coal Action Network Aotearoa

 

Contents

1.      What you can do right now

2.      CAN Aotearoa on social media: Facebook, Twitter, blog

3.      How to donate to CAN Aotearoa

4.      Coming events

5.      Regional news: Southland and south Otago, top of the South, and Auckland

6.      10-year moratorium proposal – latest news

7.      Labour takes a stand on lignite … sort of

8.      Solid Energy’s pilot briquetting plant resource consent application goes through

9.      Denniston update

10.  News and resources

 

1. What you can do right now

Ask a friend to join
The first and easiest thing you can do is to ask a friend – just one friend – to join this list. If everyone on the list gets a friend to join, we double our numbers, and double our influence. Just ask your friend to email us at coalactionnetwork@gmail.com and let us know their name, email address, and preferably the part of the country they live in (region, town or city). Or send us their details (after checking with them first).That’s all it takes.

Rev up your local politicians

It’s election season, and all over the country, small, nimble political animals are hunting out opportunities for publicity, while larger political animals are shaking off their triennial slumber and galumphing across the countryside in pursuit of palatable policies.

That creates opportunities for us, because this is the time of the electoral cycle when politicians of all stripes feel especially inclined to pay attention to their constituents. You live in an electorate, and that means you have an electorate MP – see this helpful map: http://www.elections.org.nz/mapping/

There will also be list MPs, and a whole host of candidates, in your area. Your local MP will hold ‘clinics’ – sessions where constituents can turn up and say what’s on their minds. Contact your MP’s electorate office to find out when the MP is holding a clinic in your area. When they ask what’s on your mind, you can tell them that lignite is, and coal, and climate change, and how those things will affect the way you may vote later this year.

Remember – there’s no need to be scared of your MP. This is the time when they are more scared of you.

PS: Labour has just given the first indication of its stand on lignite mining (see story below). You might think that this statement doesn’t go far enough. If that’s what you think, be sure to give that message to your local Labour MP and Labour Party people!

 

2. CAN Aotearoa on Social Media

Facebook group now open

Our Facebook group at

http://www.facebook.com/#!/home.php?sk=group_218300434877031

is now open, so you can join, and get your friends to join too.

A Facebook page we encourage you to Like is Leave the Lignite, Save the Soil:

http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Leave-the-Lignite-Save-the-Soil/12917904715925

@coalaction is on Twitter

If you are on Twitter, please follow our Twitter account, @coalaction, at https://twitter.com/#!/coalaction. Please look out for our tweets, retweet them, and encourage your followers to follow @coalaction as well.

Our blog

Keep up with the latest news about our campaigns on the Coal Action Network Aotearoa blog:

https://coalactionnetworkaotearoa.wordpress.com

 

3. How to donate to CAN Aotearoa

As this campaign grows, our costs are beginning to increase. Thank you to all those who have donated during the past month. If you’d like to help us financially, you can donate as follows:

Coal Action Network
Kiwibank
38 9011 0484435 00

 

4. Coming events

Friday 29 – Sunday 31 July: National Hui for Action Against Fossil Fuel Extraction, Nga Whare Watea Marae, Mangere, Auckland. See: https://spreadsheets.google.com/spreadsheet/viewform?formkey=dG1hdnV6SGVvdTc2TWlXcTZiRzZPVnc6MQ

Saturday 30 July: Ride for Renewables, starts 12 noon from Toad Hall Motueka (but arrive early for a briefing)

Saturday 6 August: Next meeting of Auckland Action Against Coal Extraction, 2-4pm, the Quaker Meeting House, 113 Mt Eden Road, Auckland. To join or enquire contact:  AucklandActionACE@gmail.com

Monday 8 August: Forest and Bird public meeting,

St Andrews Presbyterian Church Hall, 22 Naish St, Balclutha, starts 7pm (see the Southland and South Otago report below)

Saturday 24 September: Moving Planet, nationwide. Look for your community on the site. As an example, here’s the Wellington event:

http://www.moving-planet.org/events/nz/wellington/218

If there isn’t an action in your town, why not organise one!  You just need to tell people 1) Place, 2) Time, 3) What to bring (e.g. placards), 4) How to get there – bike, walk, skateboard…

We are excited to hear about Grandmothers and Grandfathers, who are concerned about what we are leaving our grandchildren to deal with – especially the new coal proposals – and who are organising G-force events (grandparents, great aunts and uncles, grandchildren) for this350.org day of action.

If you have events that relate to CAN Aotearoa’s work that you want us to advertise in the newsletter, please email the details to coalactionnetwork@gmail.com with “For newsletter” in the subject line. Please give full details of topic, date, time, and location, plus a web link or email address for further information if available.

 

5. Regional news: Southland and South Otago, top of the South, and Auckland

As concern over the Government’s plans to hack, drill and burn their way to a spurious definition of economic success intensifies, we’re seeing groups spring into action around the country to oppose these plans. Sometimes the impetus for their formation has come from CAN Aotearoa members, sometimes not, but it’s great to see the upsurge in people taking action. Here are three regional reports that show some of the range of what’s going on.

Southland and South Otago news

Actions against the proposed lignite mining at Mataura in Southland are gaining momentum locally.

Since Dr James Hansen’s visit there have been several significant events. There was a string of letters to the paper about the issues associated with the proposal and the decision not to publicly notify re the briquetting plant trial project was a time for indignation by locals.

Local Environment Southland ( ES Regional Council) Councillor Robert Guyton held a public meeting at the time ES was considering the consent application, with about 50 people attending – mainly expressing their discontent at being excluded from having a say as well as stating their concerns around the proposal.

A public forum organised by the Blue greens in Southland with Hon Nick Smith, Minister for the Environment as guest speaker evoked some telling questions about the mining issue, most of which he evaded answering with any facts. His philosophy when asked about the effect of carbon emissions around using lignite was that it would be the country to which we export e.g. China which would have to pay the carbon taxes so it wasn’t NZ’s worry. Several in the audience were shocked at this attitude and expressed their disquiet. Other questions were around protecting our ‘clean, green image’ if the proposals go ahead in the light of our reliance on the tourist industry, particularly in Southland. 

A Chamber of Commerce meeting with Solid Energy hierarchy, Brett Gamble and Gregg Visser presenting their perspectives with time frames around each of their long term proposals for using Southland lignite was attended by several anti- lignite proponents. Questions about the loss of productive farmland and their climate change policy did not elicit satisfactory answers and left them stumbling.

A ‘Grans against lignite mining ‘ is being proposed by Southland people for 350.org day on Saturday 24 September with a local focus but hopefully the initiative being taken up nationally through all the networks. 

Southland Forest and Bird has organised a public meeting with the South Otago Branch for Monday 8 August in Balclutha (St Andrews Presbyterian Church Hall) at 7pm to discuss the issues and work on actions and responses. The notice is below – all welcome!

South Otago Forest and Bird Branch organised public meeting, Monday 8 August, St Andrews Presbyterian Church Hall, 22 Naish St, Balclutha, (going south out of town- up hill turn in to Lewin St on left and then left in to Naish St), from 7pm to 9pm.

Top of the South news

Top of the South is planning for future events which aim to bring communities into dialogue around our collective energy future. There are exciting possibilities emerging from the Hands Across the Sands action – increased communication, networking, and ideas flowing… Happy to share ideas and resources across the country! Contact no.oily.beaches@gmail.com

The sinister ship Noble Discoverer, carrying out exploration off the Taranaki coast, was last week officially ‘seeking shelter’ in Tasman Bay. People noticed the oil drilling platform off the coast, frequent movements at dawn, oil tankers and strategic movements within the region related to exploration permits. One has to wonder, why this oil drilling platform needed to cross the Cook Strait in the first place? Where is it going? And what a coincidence that weeks after people across the top of the south said no to offshore oil exploration, an oil drilling ship turns up unannounced.. Keep an eye out off the shores of Canterbury and Dunedin for a rather sinister looking ship called Noble Discoverer.

Good news articles

Hands Across the Sands!

http://happyzine.co.nz/2011/06/27/the-reality-of-oil-and-the-power-of-hands/

Nelson calls for solar heating

http://www.stuff.co.nz/nelson-mail/news/5265960/Council-runs-hot-on-solar-heating

Upcoming event: Ride for Renewables

Saturday 30 July, 12 noon-3pm
Let your presence swell the tide of support for a renewable energy future and opposition to fossil fuel extraction. Ride departs at 12 noon from Toad Hall Motueka but arrive early for a briefing.

We will ride to the Museum and meet with Labour MP Damien O’Connor. This is a family friendly event, all are welcome with or without a bike!

For more info contact no.oily.beaches@gmail.com
Can’t wait to see you there!

http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=233913423298600

Auckland News: New anti-coal group formed

On 2 July, 30 Coal Action Network Aotearoa supporters from the national email list met in Auckland to form a new anti-coal group. The provisionally named Auckland Action Against Coal Extraction will focus its energies on how best to support the campaign for a coal-free Aotearoa, working locally in Auckland.

The group discussed the following questions:

– Where can we most effectively focus our collective efforts?

– What can we contribute individually?

Jeanette Fitzsimons put the situation in a nutshell for us: the issues we are facing with coal extraction in Aotearoa and some stories of hope for the future. Her notes from this presentation can be found on the Coal Action Network blog:

https://coalactionnetworkaotearoa.wordpress.com/2011/07/24/jeanette-fitzsimons-presentation-to-the-eco-conference-2011/

The great turn-out and obvious energy for action seemed to indicate that there are a lot of people out there waiting for an opportunity to contribute on this issue. Based on this experience, we would really recommend that other regions that haven’t already done so try to set up their own groups.

If you are feeling inspired to call a first meeting, you may well find enough supporters on this email list to get things started in your area.*  What better time to gather our energies and fight for the future of our children and grandchildren! Kia kaha  tātou !

Next meeting of Auckland Action Against Coal Extraction: 6 August, 2-4pm, The Quaker Meeting House, 113 Mt Eden Road. To join or enquire contact:  AucklandActionACE@gmail.com

 

6. The 10-Year moratorium proposal: Latest developments

As discussed in the June newsletter, Dr Susan Krumdieck’s call for a 10-year moratorium on lignite mining in Southland, initially made on our lignite campaign discussion list, has sparked a lot of discussion both within the list and within the broader climate movement.

Jeanette Fitzsimons, climate activist and former Green Party co-leader, has taken on the job of shaping this call into something which a range of groups and individuals can sign on to, and she is now discussing this with a range of groups. She’s adopted the CAN Aotearoa proposal for this call should be worded, which is:

Call: We call for a ten-year moratorium on new coal mining and new coal-fired power stations in New Zealand.

Reason for the moratorium: Burning coal is the dirtiest fossil fuel activity on the planet. We are facing runaway climate change which will destroy our children’s and grandchildren’s lives and livelihoods. Based on what we know now, we must keep the coal (including lignite) in the ground rather than risk a massive increase in greenhouse gas emissions.

Reason for the ten-year review period: At the end of the initial ten-year moratorium, it is appropriate to review the science of climate change and the technology of coal exploitation to see whether the moratorium should be lifted.

CAN Aotearoa’s position hasn’t changed – we want a complete ban on new coal mining, not just a 10-year moratorium. But a moratorium would be an important step along the way, and we hope this call can be finalised and widely distributed in time to have an effect on the election campaign.

 

7. Labour takes a stand on lignite … sort of

Labour Party climate change spokesperson Charles Chauvel has made a statement opposing Solid Energy’s lignite mining plans on Labour’s Red Alert blog – although, if you read carefully, he also leaves the door open for lignite mining, since the statement falls short of proposing a ban or even a 10-year moratorium, and talks about controlling such proposals by changes to the ETS, and about the possibilities of new tree planting and CCS to offset emissions.

Anyway, here it is. See what you think! And, if you don’t think Labour has gone far enough, then please call, or write to, or visit your local Labour MP and give them that message.

http://blog.labour.org.nz/index.php/2011/07/22/lignite-doesnt-make-the-cut/
Mining lignite doesn’t make the cut
Posted by Charles Chauvel on July 22nd, 2011

 

8. Solid Energy’s pilot briquetting plant resource consent application goes through

As described in the Southland regional report above, while Environment Southland councillor Robert Guyton was holding his “Other Lignite Meeting” in Invercargill on Wednesday, Environment Southland was rubber-stamping Solid Energy’s pilot briquetting plant consent application – a disappointing, but expected, result.

Here’s some media coverage of both developments:

Lignite plant gets council go-ahead (Southland Times): http://www.stuff.co.nz/southland-times/business/5246236/Lignite-plant-gets-council-go-ahead

Former chairman questions Guyton (Southland Times): http://www.stuff.co.nz/southland-times/news/5246237/Former-chairman-questions-Guyton [This is how the Southland Times chose to headline Robert’s event]

– incidentally, the ‘former chairman’ is Stuart Collie, who really isn’t in a good position to throw allegations of bias at other people – see: http://cracker666.wordpress.com/2010/09/22/a-betting-man/

Briquette plant gains all consents (Otago Daily Times): http://www.odt.co.nz/your-town/mataura/168235/briquette-plant-gains-all-consents

This is, of course, only the first step in the process Solid Energy plans to follow on its way to building full-scale briquetting, urea and lignite-to-diesel plants. They have a lot of hurdles to clear yet, and the stronger this campaign gets, the higher the hurdles we’ll be able to place in their path, and the less able the Stuart Collies of this world will be to give them a helping hand.

 

9. Denniston update

West Coast Environment Network Inc reports that Forest and Bird recently launched a campaign for the creation of a ‘Denniston Reserve’ that would offer long overdue protection for upland coal measure ecosystems.  Read about it here: www.forestandbird.org.nz/files/file/Denniston%20Briefing%20Paper.pdf

We are still waiting for the Commissioners to make a decision on Bathurst’s resource consent application for an opencast mine.  To get involved in the campaign to stop this mine on conservation land, email wcent@riseup.net

 

10. News and resources

Solid Energy is running scared of Environment Southland councillor Robert Guyton. Poor, defenceless Solid Energy!

http://www.stuff.co.nz/southland-times/news/5311437/Solid-Energy-wanted-to-speak-frankly

Essential Southland reading

Robert Guyton’s blog (yes, the man who is Solid Energy’s worst nightmare): http://robertguyton.blogspot.com/

Dave Kennedy’s blog: http://localbodies-bsprout.blogspot.com/

Kennedy Graham: Lignite In Wonderland

Kennedy Graham takes us through the looking glass: http://blog.greens.org.nz/2011/07/15/the-lignite-mirror-maze/

.. and finds Hekia Parata, the Acting Minister of Energy and Resources, has turned into Nick Smith in this sequence of parliamentary questions, which begins…

Dr KENNEDY GRAHAM (Green) to the Acting Minister of Energy and Resources: Does she agree with the Prime Minister, who said “companies like Solid Energy are growth companies and we want them to expand in areas like lignite conversion”?

The adventure continues here:

https://coalactionnetworkaotearoa.wordpress.com/2011/07/23/questions-about-lignite-in-parliament/

New campaign takes a stand on fossil fuel

Generation Zero is a new campaign calling for a Zero Carbon Action Plan in New Zealand – and they are well aware that lignite mining can’t be any part of a zero-carbon future:

http://generationzero.org.nz/the-urgency-of-now/lignite-fossil-fail/

Fracking (Hydraulic Fracturing)

A closely related issue…

France Outlaws Fracking…

http://climate-connections.org/2011/07/18/france-vote-outlaws-‘fracking’-shale-for-natural-gas-oil-extraction/

… and an Australian moratorium is extended…

http://www.singletonargus.com.au/news/local/news/general/moratorium-extended/2234999.aspx

… while the New Zealand Government and its cronies try to frack everything in sight:

http://sciblogs.co.nz/hot-topic/2011/06/27/the-gas-don%E2%80%99t-work/

… but campaigns have sprung up in opposition:

As Anna Chinn writes in the Otago Daily Times, it’s a “fracking bad idea”:  http://www.odt.co.nz/blogs/anna-chinn/170285/fracking-bad-idea

Our resources pages

We now have a resources page on our blog, which brings together lots of information and pictorial resources you can use in campaigning and to educate your friends. If you do nothing else, check out the photos of overseas lignite mines halfway down the page. This is what we’re trying to stop. This is what Solid Energy wants to unleash on Southland.

https://coalactionnetworkaotearoa.wordpress.com/downloads/

Coal Action Network Aotearoa (CAN Aotearoa) is a group of climate justice campaigners committed to fighting the continuation of coal mining in Aotearoa New Zealand.

CAN Aotearoa’s objectives are to:
1. Phase out coal mining and coal usage within 20 years, initially by opposing new and expanded coal mines.
2. Promote a cultural change so that mining and using coal are unacceptable.
3. Work towards a society where people and the environment are not exploited for profit.
4. Be part of a just transition to a coal-free Aotearoa New Zealand.

Find out more at: https://coalactionnetworkaotearoa.wordpress.com/

Or join the CAN Aotearoa supporters list by emailing: coalactionnetwork@gmail.com

Be Aware of the Grey Wolf Creeping up in the Dark

The sinister oil drilling ship the Noble Discoverer spotted in Tasman Bay

Anadarko, Petrobras, Greywolf – the names are colourful and somehow symbolic. Only a week after hundreds of people were showing their protest by holding hands on beaches in Nelson, Motueka and Golden Bay an impressive armada of oil vessels appeared in Tasman Bay – a coincidence? They were seeking shelter from heavy storms off the Taranaki Coast  in the much calmer waters in the Tasman Bay – an area the mentioned companies are desperate to explore. They have to walk carefully not to stir up the Greenies and nature lovers and other activists. One year after the disastrous accident on the Deepwater Hori in the Gulf of Mexico oil companies around the world happily continue to explore new terrains. It took BP several months to close the leakage, and more than a year later the company is still trying to clean up the mess in the Mississippi Delta. The beaches are heavily polluted, fisheries severely affected – but BP & Co are allowed to continue their business in the Gulf and elsewhere. Greenpeace experts and independent scientists warn that there is no “emergency plan” that can prevent the dramatic consequences of future accidents.

To explain this appearance of the petroleum drilling ship the Noble Discoverer, Fairfax Media reported in May that the ship, which had been drilling the Ruru exploration well off the South Taranaki coast for operator Shell Todd Oil Services, had its mooring system and drilling equipment damaged when anchor lines snapped in a storm.

The company said that as a precautionary measure the crew disconnected the vessel from the wellhead before the storm hit, and closed in the well. When some of the eight anchor lines holding the vessel failed the remaining lines were disconnected and it was moved into deeper waters to ride out the storm.

Noble Discoverer was built in 1966 and was originally a bulk carrier called the Matsuhiro Maru. In 1976 it was converted for the energy exploration operations and renamed Frontier Discoverer. The name was changed again to Noble Discoverer last year when drilling company Frontier Drilling merged with fellow driller Noble Corporation.

 

 

Escarpment Opencast Coal Mine Proposal, Denniston Plateau, July 2011 update

Please download the July 2011 update about the escarpment opencast coal mine proposal on the Denniston Plateau on the West Coast, and the campaign to stop it: EMP Update 2 _13 July_

It is from the West Coast Environment Network, who can be contacted by e-mailing wcent@riseup.net

Exciting Non-violent Direct Action against Mountaintop Removal in the US

Exciting non-violent direct action being undertaken by the Mountain Justice crew in the Appalachians (in eastern USA), against mountaintop removal:
http://mountainjustice.org/events.php?id=222

Also check out their video on the first days of the Tree Sit to halt the blasting.

Jeanette Fitzsimons’ presentation to the ECO Conference 2011

Please download a word document containing Jeanette Fitzsimons’ presentation to the 2011 ECO Conference – jeanette_fitzsimons_presentation_eco_conference_2011

It has also been added to our resources page.

 

Questions about lignite in Parliament

Some questions were raised by Kennedy Graham (of the Greens) about lignite mining, including the proposed briquetting plant in Southland, in parliament recently.

You can also read the transcript.

Keep the Coal in the Hole: Why NZ’s Lignite should not be Mined (Jeanette Fitzsimons)

Earlier this year, Jeanette Fitzsimons talked at four public meetings across Aotearoa hosted by Coal Action Network Aotearoa. At these meetings, she used a powerpoint presentation to supplement her talk. Please download it by clicking on the next sentence in blue.

lignite_powerpoint_Jeanette_Fitzsimons_Autumn2011

(Warning: it is a very large file, and you will need the Microsoft Powerpoint programme, or a similar open source programme like openoffice.org Impress – which you can download for free –  to open it).

‘Long live the climate movement’

An interesting article on climate justice from Rising Tide:

http://www.risingtidenorthamerica.org/2010/02/the-climate-movement-is-dead-long-live-the-climate-movement/lifedeath/

CAN Aotearoa June newsletter

Kia ora koutou,

Welcome to the June edition of the Coal Action Network Aotearoa monthly newsletter – and a special welcome to those receiving this newsletter for the first time.

Unlike the last two months’ monster efforts, this newsletter is a single-parter, but there is still plenty going on, as you’ll see below.

Our July newsletter will go out earlier in the month than usual, and that will include some of the news, such as regional news, that isn’t included in this one.

Regards

Tim Jones

for Coal Action Network Aotearoa

Contents

  • CAN Aotearoa on social media: Twitter, Facebook, blog
  • How to donate to CAN Aotearoa
  • What you can do right now
  • Solid Energy’s pilot briquetting plant resource consent application – latest news
  • 10-year moratorium proposal
  • West Coast news
  • The Role of Strategic Planning in a Nonviolent Direct Action Campaign
  • Resources

CAN Aotearoa on Social Media

On Twitter

If you are on Twitter, please follow our Twitter account, @coalaction, at https://twitter.com/#!/coalaction. Please look out for our tweets, retweet them, and encourage your followers to follow @coalaction as well.

On Facebook

Coal Action Network Aotearoa has set up a Facebook group:

http://www.facebook.com/#!/home.php?sk=group_218300434877031

It’s a closed group at the moment, but you can request to be added to it.

A Facebook page we encourage you to Like is Leave the Lignite, Save the Soil:

http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Leave-the-Lignite-Save-the-Soil/12917904715925

Our Blog

Keep up with the latest news about our campaigns on the Coal Action Network Aotearoa blog:

https://coalactionnetworkaotearoa.wordpress.com

Lots of new content has been added recently – some of the links are included in Resources near the end of this newsletter.

How to Donate to CAN Aotearoa

As this campaign grows, our costs are beginning to increase. Thank you to all those who have donated during the past month. If you’d like to help us financially, you can donate as follows:

Coal Action Network
Kiwibank
38 9011 0484435 00
 

What You Can do Right Now

Ask a Friend to Join

The first and easiest thing you can do is to ask a friend – just one friend – to join this list. If everyone on the list gets a friend to join, we double our numbers, and double our influence. Just ask your friend to email us at coalactionnetwork@gmail.com and let us know their name, email address, and preferably the part of the country they live in (region, town or city). That’s all it takes.

Rev up Your Local Politicians

It’s election season, and all over the country, small, nimble political animals are hunting out opportunities for publicity, while larger political animals are shaking off their triennial slumber and galumphing across the countryside in pursuit of palatable policies.

That creates opportunities for us, because this is the time of the electoral cycle when politicians of all stripes feel especially inclined to pay attention to their constituents. You live in an electorate, and that means you have an electorate MP – see this helpful map: http://www.elections.org.nz/mapping/

There will also be list MPs, and a whole host of candidates, in your area. Your local MP will hold ‘clinics’ – sessions where constituents can turn up and say what’s on their minds. Contact your MP’s electorate office to find out when the MP is holding a clinic in your area. When they ask what’s on your mind, you can tell them that lignite is, and coal, and climate change, and how those things will affect the way you may vote later this year.

Remember – there’s no need to be scared of your MP. This is the time when they are more scared of you.

Write A Letter to the Minister of Conservation

See “West Coast News” for a specific letter that needs to be written right now – and a template to get you started.

Solid Energy’s Pilot Briquetting Plant Resource Consent Application – Latest News

Solid Energy applied to Environment Southland and Gore District Council for consent to build a pilot briquetting plant near Mataura. Gore District Council approved the application non-notified, giving no chance for public input. Environment Southland allowed 12 named parties to comment on the application, and two of them chose to do so: Dongwha and the Southern District Health Board. You can read about that in these two articles, the second of which focuses specifically on the Southern DHB response:

http://www.odt.co.nz/news/national/166872/sdhb-comments-lignite-plans

We now await Environment Southland’s decision. Should the plant receive approval, Solid Energy have stated that it will take ten months to build.

The 10-Year Moratorium Proposal

Those of you who are members of our discussion list will have seen, and possibly taken part in, the lively discussion sparked by Dr Susan Krumdieck’s initial call for a 10-year moratorium on lignite mining in Southland. Overall reaction to this call has been very positive, and there have also been a number of suggested amendments. There has been particular interest in getting political parties to adopt this call as election campaign policy.

CAN Aotearoa’s position on mining of lignite coal, and indeed all coal, is clear: our first objective is to

Phase out coal mining and coal usage [in Aotearoa/New Zealand] within 20 years, initially by opposing new and expanded coal mines.

Therefore, we want a total ban on Southland lignite mining plans, and on other new coal developments, not just a 10-year moratorium.

But we recognise that such a ban may be a step too far at this stage for some groups and parties who are potentially sympathetic, and so we have proposed, in reaction to Jeanette Fitzsimons’ latest call for responses on the issue, that the following call go out for the 2011 general election campaign:

Call: We call for a ten-year moratorium on new coal mining and new coal-fired power stations in New Zealand.

Reason for the moratorium: Burning coal is the dirtiest fossil fuel activity on the planet. We are facing runaway climate change which will destroy our children’s and grandchildren’s lives and livelihoods. Based on what we know now, we must keep the coal (including lignite) in the ground rather than risk a massive increase in greenhouse gas emissions.

Reason for the ten-year review period: At the end of the initial ten-year moratorium, it is appropriate to review the science of climate change and the technology of coal exploitation to see whether the moratorium should be lifted.

West Coast News

A local West Coast group is gearing up to fight against a proposed opencast coal mine on conservation land near Westport. Australian Bathurst Resources wants to dig up 6.1mt of coal, destroying 200ha of the ecologically significant Denniston Plateau. The company aims for annual production of 1.5mt initially — an increase in New Zealand’s coal exports of 62% — and has asked for a 35 year consent for its coal processing plant to enable further mining on the plateau.

The West Coast Environment Network, Jeanette Fitzsimons, Conservation Board and Forest and Bird appeared before the resource consent hearing last week along with local group Buller Conservation Group and various residents.

The Department of Conservation was conspicuously absent from those giving oral submissions, to the apparent frustration of the hearing committee, who lacked detailed ecological advice. Having DOC abandon its advocacy role on such a destructive large-scale project can perhaps best be explained by last year’s Schedule 4 debate; the public of New Zealand gave a resounding no to mining, and Gerry Brownlee said of the rest of the conservation estate… “New Zealanders have given the miners sector [sic] a clear mandate to go and explore that land.”

How you can help

West Coast Environment Network suggest the best action at this stage is to write to newspapers and the Minister of Conservation saying why you think this mine should be stopped. A template is given below, but your own words are always more powerful.

Template letter to the Minister (kate.wilkinson@parliament.govt.nz)

Dear Minister,

I am writing to urge you to decline consent for a new open-cast coal mine on the Denniston Plateau near Westport. This mine would permanently destroy 200 hectares of a nationally significant ecosystem, kill or displace all resident wildlife, and significantly increase New Zealand’s contribution to climate change.

The Denniston upland coal measure is identified as a priority site for biodiversity management in the West Coast Conservation Management Strategy and has been given ‘high priority for protection’ by the Ministry for the Environment and Department of Conservation. I find it astonishing that your Department’s submission on the associated Resource Consent Application was neutral, given the significant impacts this mine would have on ecological and historic values.

The mine would not only result in the killing or displacement of
‘protected’ wildlife such as fernbirds, giant land snails, Great spotted kiwi, West Coast green geckos and speckled skinks; it would further diminish habitat for several threatened species.  Should the Department allow this mine to go ahead, the public of New Zealand would lose ownership of a high-value conservation area, and in return become liable for long-term acid mine drainage and weed control.

Your Department has obligations under the Conservation Act 1987 to manage for conservation purposes, all land, especially public conservation land.

Please adhere to this Act and decline this coal mining company access to our most intact upland coal measure ecosystem – do not let this unique environment be destroyed.

Yours sincerely,

YOUR NAME
Address (optional)

The Role of Strategic Planning in a Nonviolent Direct Action Campaign

This article is by Lynne Dempsey, who is a member of our discussion list, and it’s a response to our announcement in the May newsletter that we are beginning preparations for nonviolent direct action as part of the anti-lignite-mining campaign. In this article, Lynne looks at one of the aspects that’s needed to make an NVDA campaign successful.

If we are to seriously engage in a nonviolent campaign to pressure the government to abandon its plans to further expand coal mining, particularly the plans for processing and exporting lignite, then we will be in for a long hard struggle. We have the moral high ground and the science on our side. As  a democratically elected government, they have the majority of people on their side – what is regarded as ‘a mandate’. It will not be a pushover.

This is where the insights of Gene Sharp of the Albert Einstein Institution, distilled from 40 years of research, experience and analysis of resistance movements, would be invaluable.  Much of his work is concerned with opposition to oppressive regimes, but the key principles are applicable to campaigns within democracies. Gene Sharp stresses repeatedly that without good strategic planning most resistance struggles will fail to achieve their objective. Here is what he says about the role of strategy in non-violent action:
Historically, nonviolent action has often been an improvised type of action—sometimes even a spontaneous occurrence—with little or no advanced strategic planning to guide it. However, just as strategic planning is used in military conflicts and other types of activities, strategic planning can also be used in nonviolent action to increase its effectiveness. Strategic planning involves choosing clear objectives, devising a grand strategy (or master plan), more limited strategies for specific objectives that fit within the grand strategy, tactical (or short-term) planning, and the choice of specific methods to achieve tactical and strategic objectives.
As campaigners we will need to consider our own strength and that of the opposition before planning the tactics and methods to be used. Gene Sharp lists 198 possible methods – categorised as eg formal statements, symbolic public acts, drama and music, processions, social noncooperation, strikes, social, psychological and political intervention and so on. We need to come to grips with why people submit to rulers – even when it is against their own interests. Sharp identifies, for example, habit, self-interest, moral obligation to the state, psychological identification with rulers, indifference, lack of self-confidence. This awareness is crucial because the insight on which strategies for non-violence are based is that “a ruler cannot rule if the people do not obey” or in our situation, consent. Winning over the people is critical for the success of any campaign.

We need to identify the primary pillars of support for society – and which ones can be won over to support our objectives – civil servants, media, youth, workers, religious institutions, the business community, NGOs, clubs and social interest groups eg the Ahi Ka Action group (Ngati Porou and Te Whanau a Apanui) is directing a strongly worded brochure about deep sea drilling to hunters, fishermen, campers and divers concerned about oil spills on the East Coast.

Most of the Albert Einstein Institution’s publications can be downloaded from their website at http://www.aeinstein.org/.  A good introduction to Gene Sharp’s approach can be found in “There Are Realistic Alternatives”. Speed read through to chapter two if you are short of time.  Read this along with the WWF Strategies for Change, or, as this is quite long, read Jeanette’s article based on the report, in Issue 60 of EnergyWatch (available from http://www.energywatch.org.nz/recent.html#60). There is mounting evidence that facts play only a partial role in shaping people’s judgement. Emotion is often far more important. Awareness of this will influence how we ‘frame’ our communication strategies.

Finally, take a look at Rebecca Priestley in the June 25 Listener (Why is it taking us so long to do something serious about carbon emissions). She quotes Victoria University’s Martin Manning and environmental psychologist Taciano Milfont saying that NZ is waiting to see what other countries do – a ‘wait and see’ attitude by individuals and government – also “we don’t want to be different, we don’t want to go against the norm and if the norm is that everyone is waiting and seeing we want to wait and see too”. To turn this around, they say, we need to tell people that others are already acting eg governments in Europe are introducing really strong carbon reduction policies.

– Lynne Dempsey

News and Resources

Dr James Hansen: acting as well as talking

As this call to action makes clear, James Hansen is himself taking nonviolent direct action on climate change, and calling on others to do likewise:

http://www.tarsandsaction.org/invitation/

Opposition to the Proposed Denniston Mine

While we’re on the topic of Dr Hansen, here is his video Evidence Against the Proposed Denniston Mine:

https://coalactionnetworkaotearoa.wordpress.com/2011/06/21/james-hansens-testimony-against-the-denniston-mine/

plus Coal Action Network Aotearoa spokesperson Frances Mountier talking on Breakfast TV on the same issue:

http://tvnz.co.nz/business-news/debate-rages-over-buller-mine-plan-4251542/video

and Jeanette Fitzsimons’ submission against the mine (as a Word document):

https://coalactionnetworkaotearoa.files.wordpress.com/2011/06/denniston_oral_dc.doc

 

Hands Across The Sands

A report and photos from the rapidly growing Top of the South anti-fossil-fuels-extraction campaign:

https://coalactionnetworkaotearoa.wordpress.com/2011/06/27/hands-across-the-sands-actions-in-the-top-of-the-south-photos-article/

and CAN Aotearoa’s press statement in support of these actions:

https://coalactionnetworkaotearoa.wordpress.com/2011/06/24/can-aotearoa-supports-day-of-action-against-fossil-fuel-extraction/

Campaign Resources

We now have a resources page on our blog, which brings together lots of information and pictorial resources you can use in campaigning and to educate your friends. If you do nothing else, check out the photos of overseas lignite mines halfway down the page. This is what we’re trying to stop. This is what Solid Energy wants to unleash on Southland.

https://coalactionnetworkaotearoa.wordpress.com/downloads/

Coal Action Network Aotearoa (CAN Aotearoa) is a group of climate justice campaigners committed to fighting the continuation of coal mining in Aotearoa New Zealand.

CAN Aotearoa’s objectives are to:
1. Phase out coal mining and coal usage within 20 years, initially by opposing new and expanded coal mines.
2. Promote a cultural change so that mining and using coal are unacceptable.
3. Work towards a society where people and the environment are not exploited for profit.
4. Be part of a just transition to a coal-free Aotearoa New Zealand.

Find out more at: https://coalactionnetworkaotearoa.wordpress.com/

Or join the CAN Aotearoa supporters list by emailing: coalactionnetwork@gmail.com