Monthly Archives: December 2011

Jenny Campbell Radio Interview

Coal Action Network Aotearoa organising group member Jenny Campbell talked with Chris Diack of Classic Gold Radio on Tuesday 20 December about the Keep the Coal in the Hole Summer Festival. You can listen to the interview here:

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CAN Aotearoa December/January Newsletter

Kia ora koutou,

Welcome to the final Coal Action Network Aotearoa newsletter for the year – and the first newsletter for 2012 as well.

The reason there won’t be a newsletter in January is that we will all be very busy with the Keep the Coal in the Hole Summer Festival, which is taking place on Mike Dumbar’s farm near Mataura from 20-23 January 2012 – see http://nocoalsummerfest.org.nz/

It’s great to see the number of people signing up for the Festival rapidly increasing – but we’ve also had reports that some people have had problems signing up via the Festival website. So, in this newsletter, we remind you of how to sign up the usual way, but also give you an alternative method of registering if the site won’t work for you.

We’ve also got some thoughts on the election result, the latest news from around the country, and a round-up of other news and resources you can use in the campaign.

Have a good holiday season, and we’ll see you in January.

Regards
Tim Jones

Contents

1. Keep the Coal in the Hole Summer Festival
2. 2011 General Election – the result and its implications
3. Denniston Campaign News
4. Southland News and ongoing actions
5. Auckland Coal Action report
6. Carbon Capture and Storage: The Transfield Worley report is made public
7. WWF’s 100% Possible Clean Energy Advocates Network
8. The Clock Is Ticking
9. Campaign Resources
10. CAN Aotearoa on social media
11. How to donate to CAN Aotearoa
12. How our mailing lists work

1. Keep the Coal in the Hole Summer Festival: Just Over A Month To Go

There is now little over one month to go until the Keep the Coal in the Hole Summer Festival, which is being held in Southland from 20-23 January on Mike Dumbar’s farm, right next to the pilot lignite-to-briquettes plant currently being built by Solid Energy.

We want to make sure as many people attend the Festival as possible. That means reminding you to register at the cheaper early-bird rate – and it also means giving you an alternative way of registering if you’re having trouble with our online registration form.

A. Early-Bird Registration Ends On Tuesday 20 December

If you’re planning to attend the Festival, but haven’t registered yet, now is a good time to do it. That’s because the cheap early-bird registration rates that currently apply will end on Tuesday 20 December, and you need to register by that date to take advantage of them.

You can find out all the details and register on our Summer Festival website at

http://nocoalsummerfest.org.nz/

B. Trouble Registering Online? Here’s What To Do

We’ve heard that some people have been unable to register online, due to issues accessing the registration form with their particular computer and browser combination.

Because we want to make sure that everyone who wants to attend is able to do so, here is what to do if you are unable to register online:

Step 1: Email coalactionnetwork@gmail.com with “Summer Festival Registration” in the subject line and let us know you’ve had a problem

Step 2: We will then send you the the contents of the Festival kaupapa, information page and registration form

Step 3: You send us the completed registration form and we will add you to the list of those attending, and send you payment instructions.

We apologise for the difficulty some people have had in registering, and we hope this alternative method will make it easier for you. If you have any further problems with Summer Festival registration, please let us know by emailing coalactionnetwork@gmail.com

C. Single-Day Registrations on Saturday 21 January

Single-day registrations are available for $10 on the Saturday of the Festival, but please let us know that you’re coming – emailcoalactionnetwork@gmail.com

D. Carpooling

If you would like to arrange carpooling to reduce your transport costs in getting to and from the Festival, we suggest that you use this website to arrange it: http://www.nationalcarshare.co.nz/

At the Festival itself, there should be opportunities to arrange rides back from the Festival.

E. Support for Palmerston North-based people to attend the Summer Festival

Coal Action Network Aotearoa was recently contacted with an offer of financial support for people from Palmerston North to attend the Keep the Coal in the Hole Summer Festival. As we do not yet have anyone from Palmerston North registered to attend, this offer may be just in time to make sure this city is represented at Mataura in January.

If you (or someone you know) is based in Palmerston North and would like to attend the Festival, please contact us at coalactionnetwork@gmail.com to find out more.

F. Op-Ed on Nonviolent Direct Action

Preparation for nonviolent direct action (NVDA) will be one of the important streams of activity at the Keep the Coal in the Hole Summer Festival. . Kristin Gillies of CANA wrote an op-ed piece on nonviolent direct action which appeared in the Southland Times recently. It is now on our blog, and it’s well worth reading: https://coalactionnetworkaotearoa.wordpress.com/2011/12/04/on-lignite-and-civil-disobedience/

Coincidentally, a massive NVDA campaign against the Keystone XL oil pipeline in the US has succeeded in making President Obama postpone a decision on the pipeline until after the 2012 US Presidential Election. Forcing a postponement may not seem like much, but it’s often the first step in getting a project cancelled altogether – and considering the wealth and power of the forces promoting the pipeline, this is a significant success.

G. Summer Festival Radio

A special mobile Radio Broadcast Unit is coming to Mataura for the two days of the Keep the Coal in the Hole Summer Festival.

Residents in Mataura, Gore, and surrounding areas will be able to tune into events on 107.3 FM in Matuara and on 96.4 FM over most of Southland.

The broadcasts will be on air from 9am Saturday the 21st from Mike Dumbar’s farm just outside Mataura, and Sunday the 2nd from the Community Centre in Mataura.

Anyone anywhere can also follow events as they happen on the internet as well by connecting to an internet stream… it will be posted on the https://coalactionnetworkaotearoa.wordpress.com/ website, all being well. We will also be recording podcasts for later use.

Bring a radio with you… you’ll hear many interesting points of view

If you’re a YouTube fan this is what the portable radio station does: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pN1C6RTShY0

2. 2011 General Election – the result and its implications

During the course of the 2011 General Election campaign, three political parties that we know of announced their opposition to the expansion of coal mining in general and lignite mining in particular. We knew of the Green Party’s consistent and supportive position before the election campaign. During the campaign, the Mana Party came out in opposition to the expansion of coal mining in general, and the Labour Party announced its opposition to all of Solid Energy’s planned lignite conversion plants, and the expansion of mining that would result.

Unfortunately, as we now know, we are still stuck with a National Party Government that has continued to publicly back the expansion of lignite mining, and we face – as we would whatever combinations of parties was in power – at least three more years of hard work.

While TV and print media commentators have been falling over themselves to herald National’s big win, the reality is that National go into the next three years in a position that is weaker than it might appear, as Nicky Hager explains on Pundit: http://pundit.co.nz/content/ive-just-been-internalising-a-really-complicated-situation-in-my-head

And as long as National and their allies support the expansion of coal mining, then those of us who oppose it should be glad of anything that weakens their position. We saw the Teflon start to wear off John Key during the election campaign, and, as with any second-term Government, there are increasingly likely to be leadership bids, scandals, disaffected MPs who feel the leadership is not giving them a fair shake, leaks, resignations and by-elections as time goes by. We need to keep working on those National MPs who have shown glimmers of independent thought – as Michael Woodhouse, MP for Dunedin North, did during the election campaign when he announced his opposition to lignite mining – even if he may have done so with a nod and a wink from head office.

Along with that, there are some other parties it would be interesting to open a dialogue with. Does anyone know what NZ First thinks about lignite mining?

3. Denniston campaign news

The proposed opencast coal mine on conservation land at Denniston has been in the news a bit lately. First there was the DoC staff member who – after leading negotiations with Bathurst Resources over the environmental compensation the company would offer – jumped ship to go work for the mining company.

Then, the first working day after the election, the Minister of Conservation broke a promise to consult with the public about the mine.

As the law currently stands DoC has to ask what you think about the coal processing plant, a concession for which would be granted under the Conservation Act, but not the mine pit itself, which would be under the Crown Minerals Act. A silly situation. After the Schedule 4 debate, National agreed to publicly notify ‘significant’ mining proposals on conservation land. Kate Wilkinson told Forest and Bird the public would be consulted, but now says Government is ‘moving forward’ to work out what ‘constitutes’ a significant mining application.

It is hard to see how a 200ha mine on prime conservation land, which would double our coal exports, could be considered anything other than significant.

Now Bathurst Resources is in the news again, after being sprung on plans to hire the security company Solid Energy infamously used against the Save Happy Valley group five years ago. This involved hiring a spy to infiltrate the group, setting up hidden cameras along the path into the valley, and working on DoC land without a concession, amongst other shenanigans. Provision Security seems to specialise in operating at the fringes of legality, or beyond.

The Auckland Coal Action group held a successful fundraising dinner for the Denniston campaign last week, raising much needed funds for the court case against the mine – see the Auckland Coal Action report below for more details. The case will test whether climate change can be considered in resource consent hearings. If you can donate to West Coast Environment Network’s cause, please tag your donation to Denniston appeal – Kiwibank 38 9012 0009759 00 West Coast ENT Incorporated.

4. Southland News and ongoing actions

The pace has shifted in Southland with the start of construction of the pilot briquetting plant on the corner of Craig Rd, just south of Mataura.

Momentum is gathering for the ‘Keep the Coal in the Hole Summer Festival’ to be held at Mike Dumbar’s property just along Craig Rd from the pilot plant. Mataura people along with a group in Gore are being very generous with their time and resources so everything we need is there for the Festival. The Gore group organised a series of film evenings recently for the public, showing eg Coal Country, A Dirty Business, with a select group attending.

An article in the local community newspaper highlighted NVDA (nonviolent direct action) with a call for people to have their say on ‘Do you agree with the plan to offer  protest training at a festival where children are involved? Do you think protest action is needed? Email : emma.carle@stl.co.nz

Headings were ‘Family fest to offer protest training. Organisers plan to use non-violent direct action to stop coal mining’. It will be very interesting to see how the locals and others respond to this challenge.

Ironically the item was under a photo of Solid Energy’s new toy- ‘a 63-tonne truck and trailer-….which will save 1800 truck journeys a year between SE’s New Vale mine and Fonterra’s Edendale plant’!

Southland people are standing alongside the struggle for the Denniston Plateau – to stop the proposed mining of conservation land.

Thoughts:

‘For evil to triumph it is necessary only for good people to do nothing’,  Edmund Burke

 ‘Activism is my rent for living on this planet’, Alice Walker.

– Rangimarie, Jenny Campbell, Southland member of CANA organising group

5. Auckland Coal Action report

Over the past month Auckland Coal Action has been gearing up to participate in the Keep the Coal in the Hole Summer Festival, with a growing number of delegates signed up to make the long trip from Auckland to Mataura.

We’re also working on recruiting new members and raising awareness about coal and its impact on the climate. Over the past month this has involved holding a stall at the Grey Lynn Festival and hosting a fundraising dinner for the Denniston appeal.

Denniston dinner

By all accounts there was an abundance of good food and good conversation at the Denniston dinner, with around 45 people in attendance. Jeanette Fitzsimons gave a really informative and motivating talk which covered the plans to mine the Denniston Plateau and the campaign to stop this going ahead.

We collected around $800 to help fund the appeal to the Environment Court. The outcome of this appeal will be significant not only for the conservation of the Denniston Plateau, but also because the court will decide whether or not climate change and greenhouse gas emissions can be taken into account when considering resource consents.

Stop Assets Sales video

In other news, Jeanette Fitzsimons kindly recorded a short talk for Auckland Coal Action, a few weeks ago, highlighting the importance of stopping the sale of Solid Energy in the fight to keep Southland lignite in the ground. We’re pleased to see this video has now had over 2550 views, no doubt many of them from people on this list! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pXEZgh-l1uk

PS from the editor: A valuable companion piece to Jeanette’s video for Auckland Coal Action is this article by Nicky Chapman in the Otago Daily Times, “CO2 emissions are Southern asset sales’ dirty secret”: http://www.odt.co.nz/opinion/opinion/187067/co2-emissions-are-southern-asset-sales-dirty-secret

6. Carbon Capture and Storage: The Transfield Worley report is made public

When promoting his lignite mining and conversion plans, Solid Energy boss Don Elder likes to hold out the promise of capturing the carbon dioxide emissions from the conversion plants and sticking them underground – a process known as Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS).

CCS is a bit like high-temperature nuclear fusion. It works in theory and there are experimental schemes that have shown promise, but it is hugely expensive and tends to fail in practice, leading to embarrassing situations such as large quantities of carbon dioxide bubbling up through the ground and adding itself to the atmosphere.

Furthermore, CCS isn’t a one-size-fits-all sort of thing. Even its proponents admit that there has to be somewhere safe and secure available underground near the source of the CO2 so that it can be stored. That in turn raises issues of liability – for instance, if that “safe and secure” storage proves to be neither, who pays the cost when it fails? Who is responsible for the resulting emissions?

You might think that, in a country as earthquake-prone as New Zealand, CCS would not be considered as a serious option. But that hasn’t stopped a body calling itself the New Zealand CCS Partnership commissioning a report from Transfield Worley consultants on the prospects for CCS in New Zealand. You can read the summary, and the full report, here:

http://www.straterra.co.nz/uploads/files/ccs_in_new_zealand_summary_report_2011.pdf

http://www.straterra.co.nz/uploads/files/ccs_in_new_zealand_case_studies_2011.pdf

Dr Shannon Page of Lincoln University will critique the technology of CCS at the Festival’s Open Day in Mataura.

So, what is the New Zealand CCS partnership? According to the website of fossil fuel lobbyists Straterra,

The NZCCS Partnership was formed in 2006 to assess and address the enabling of CCS technologies at a commercial scale in New Zealand. It comprises interested industry and government representatives, including the Ministry of Science and Innovation, Ministry of Economic Development, Coal Association of NZ, and Solid Energy. (http://www.straterra.co.nz/CCS)

To summarise, the industry that wants to introduce CCS in New Zealand is working hand in glove with the Ministries who would have the job of regulating it to formulate the rules under which CCS would be introduced. True to form, we know that there is a little team working away in the depths of the MED on CCS policy for New Zealand.

Such a process, with the poachers telling the gamekeepers what to do, seems unlikely to lead to the public interest, or the welfare of the New Zealand environment, or the state of the world’s climate, being placed front and centre. We’re looking forward to hearing Dr Page’s analysis.

7. WWF’s 100% Possible Clean Energy Advocates Network – An Invitation from Lee Barry of WWF-NZ

WWF-New Zealand works alongside CANA to oppose lignite mining and processing in Southland. We’ll be at the SummerFest alongside you to demonstrate our support. As the most emissions intensive fossil fuel development on the cards in this country, it is the single most important scheme to stop in order to contribute to tackling global climate change.

But lignite is just one of many energy issues facing New Zealand.

WWF works to advocate for developing the sustainable, renewable energy solutions we have in abundance. We are helped in this mission by a new team of advocates – The 100% Possible Clean Energy Advocates Network. Our advocates do for broader energy issues what this lignite group do for the lignite issue – to be the voice of reason and keep the profile up in the media and in direct correspondence with officials and companies involved.

It strikes me that some of you on this list may like to join WWF as a 100% Possible Advocate, and be the voice of reason against fossil fuels, and for renewable energy in a wider context than lignite.

For more information see: www.wwf.org.nz/100_percent_possible

Or email me on lbarry@wwf.org.nz

8. The Clock Is Ticking

The International Energy Agency has warned that the world has five years left to turn away from the path that leads to irreversible climate change, due to the amount of fossil fuel infrastructure that is currently being built: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/nov/09/fossil-fuel-infrastructure-climate-change

As its name implies, the International Energy Agency is a conservative international organisation – in fact, it’s the energy agency of the OECD. When such a mainstream commentator makes such a severe warning, you know it’s time to listen, though OECD governments have shown little sign of paying attention.

We owe it to ourselves, our friends, our children and grandchildren and people all around the world to stop the expansion of the fossil fuel industry in Aotearoa, as a first step to phasing it out entirely.

Talking of which, here’s an article that brings it all back home, written by members of the young people’s group Generation Zero:

Suffer our children unless the world changes: http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/campaign-trail/5956206/Suffer-our-children-unless-the-world-changes 

9. Campaign Resources

Just Facts booklets on Lignite Mining and Asset Sales

The Social Justice Commission of the Anglican Church has put up new factsheets on lignite mining and assets sales on its website – they are a very useful one-page resource to introduce the issues to people. You can download them here:

Just Facts: Lignite Mining: http://www.justice.net.nz/justwiki/just-facts-lignite-mining/

Just Facts: Asset Sales: http://www.justice.net.nz/justwiki/just-facts-asset-sales/

10. CAN Aotearoa on social media

Our Facebook Group

Our Facebook group is at
http://www.facebook.com/#!/home.php?sk=group_218300434877031

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

11. 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

12. How our mailing lists work – where to post, where not to post

This Coal Action Network Aotearoa list is an announcements-only list, so CAN Aotearoa can pass on news to you without your inbox getting too cluttered.

You cannot post to this list, so here’s a special plea from your mailing list administrator:

PLEASE DO NOT POST MESSAGES TO coalactionnetwork@lists.riseup.net

Doing so wastes your time, because your message gets stuck in an approval queue, and our time, because we have to work out where you meant to send it and forward it there instead.

But here’s the good news:

You are welcome, and encouraged, to discuss all aspects of our work on our Lignite Campaign Discussion list. But first, you need to join that list.

To subscribe to that list, send an email to

lignite-campaign-discuss-subscribe@lists.riseup.net

Then, to post a message to the lignite-campaign-discuss list, email it to

lignite-campaign-discuss@lists.riseup.net

Alternatively, if you’re having trouble joining the discussion list, please email coalactionnetwork@gmail.com with “Discussion list” in the subject line and we will add you to that list.

Membership of the lignite-campaign-discuss list is not vetted, so you should bear this in mind when choosing what to discuss on the list.

Join us at Mataura in Southland this January for the Keep the Coal in the Hole summer festival:

http://nocoalsummerfest.org.nz/


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. Work towards a socially 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:

On Lignite and Civil Disobedience

NASA Climate Scientist James Hansen is arrested protesting against coal mining

On Friday last week the website of state owned coal miner Solid Energy was hacked and visitors redirected  to a video featuring large scale destruction caused by open cast coal mining and with a link to this website. The action gained much media attention and being election eve it even managed to draw John Key out to describe the act as “underhand tactics”. 

The following editorial by Coal Action Network Spokesperson Kristin Gillies was published this week in the Southland Times in response……

 

On Friday last week Roger L of Stolen Energy hacked the website of state owned coal miner Solid Energy and redirected visitors to a video featuring large scale destruction caused by open cast coal mining. The action gained much media attention and being election eve it even managed to draw John Key out to describe the act as “underhand tactics” and comment that New Zealanders wanted to have “a genuine debate” about the sale of Solid Energy.

If it is true that New Zealanders want to have a genuine debate, and I think that it is, then why did Mr Key not tell us where and when this debate would happen? Why didn’t Mr Key explain why Solid Energy has begun construction on the first of its plants in a massive scheme to turn billions of tones of dirty lignite into briquettes, diesel, and urea before this debate has happened?

Thus far the debate is conspicuous by its absence, and in the run up to the general election the question of future energy supply and climate change, surely two of the greatest challenges facing the planet today, were all but invisible. And so it was left to Roger L to move the debate forward, and he did more to bring the discussion on energy and climate to the dinner table than any party political broadcast that I saw. Those “underhand tactics” have played a brief but important role in New Zealanders being able to have a debate about such an important subject.

And let’s face it, the mining of billions of tonnes of dirty lignite coal, the resulting massive increase in greenhouse gas emissions, the loss of tens of thousands of hectares of productive land and the aquifers below them, and the clouds of coal dust, and mercury laden ash billowing across the countryside, are not things we should be rushed into. Yet construction has begun.

Surely a few hours inconvenience to the users of Solid Energy’s website seems insignificant when compared to what we risk if their mining plans are fully realised.

This country’s history is full of acts of leadership now heralded as brave and courageous, acts which were once described as “underhand” and illegal. The nuclear-free movement, women’s right to vote, the anti-Springbok Tour protests, the Save Manapouri and Save Aramoana campaigns were all peppered with actions which I am sure John Key would describe today as underhand.

Outraged farmers also engaged in a little civil disobedience when they drove a tractor and herded cows onto the steps of parliament to protest the proposed “fart tax”. While I disagree with their cause their right to show their opposition in this manner is an essential part of our modern day democracy.

Our history tells us that when those in power do not uphold the values of the population, do not make space for genuine debate, but steamroll through unpopular policy and perpetuate injustice, it is up to those men and woman determined enough to stand up, even peacefully break the law, to get the message out and to make change happen.

So I applaud Roger L for raising the questions that so few in power seem to want to answer- that of our future energy requirements and the impending threat of runaway climate change.

Perhaps Roger L was following the advice of Dr James Hansen, top climate scientist at NASA and recent visitor to the region, who said “It seems to me that young people, especially, should be doing whatever is necessary to block construction of dirty coal fired power plants”. Perhaps he was recalling the statement of American Vice-President Al Gore, that “I can’t understand why there aren’t rings of young people blocking bulldozers, and preventing them from constructing coal-fired power plants”.

This coming January, concerned citizens from around the country will descend on a small sheep farm in the Mataura Valley for three days of camping, live music, workshops, strategy and non violent direct action about the mining of lignite in Southland. These are people whom have been having genuine debate, who want to share, to learn, and to stand in solidarity with those who oppose Solid Energy’s plans to turn the valley into an open cast mine.

Climate change is unarguably the greatest challenge facing us. Solid Energy’s plans for massive scale lignite mining are so short sighted, and the damage they will cause to both the local environment and the global climate are so severe, that action to oppose them is essential. Not only are people justified in using any means to peacefully and creatively oppose them, but we are actually obliged to do so.

It is as Mr Key says in the closing of Roger L’s video: “we are the masters of our own destiny”. At no point in history have these words been more true.