Monthly Archives: July 2013

Fellowship of the Drill? What was our PM thinking?

Yep, we made it to The Guardian Environment's front page - for all the wrong reasons.

Yep, we made it to The Guardian Environment’s front page – for all the wrong reasons.

Our charming Prime Minister – and Minister of Tourism – has excelled himself with his latest video promoting drilling, fracking and the general digging up of our beautiful country and its offshore marine environment. The video was released last week.

While we could go on – and on – The Guardian’s summed it for us – . Blogger Graham Readfearn points out the irony of the moves by our Government to exploit what Key calls “our natural resources” – an irony that hasn’t escaped many of us here in NZ.

Some of the comments on the blog are telling:

Clearly tourism in NZ exists outside of the Lord of the Rings phenomenon. It is, after all, a fantastic country to visit.
However, how long will the tourism last if it ruins its environment through mineral extraction? And how long do you think those minerals will last? What then?


I really can’t understand why all these right wing politicians can only think of environmentally destructive and socially divisive ways of providing employment and earning money when their are so many environmentally constructive and socially enhancing alternatives.

To those who have visited our shores, the prospect of digging up NZ to sell it off to the highest international corporate bidder is clearly as bizarre a concept as it is to us.


What Is Coal Action Network Aotearoa?

We post lots of information about specific campaigns on this blog, but we don’t often step back to look at the wider picture. This is a short introduction to Coal Action Network Aotearoa and its work in 2013, which you can also download in PDF format.

What is Coal Action Network Aotearoa (CANA)?

CANA is a national organisation working to phase out coal mining and coal usage in Aotearoa/NZ by 2027, initially by opposing new and expanded coal mines. We do this because we recognise the mining and burning of coal as the biggest threat to the world’s climate system. We want to be part of a just transition to a coal-free Aotearoa New Zealand.

What has CANA done to oppose coal mining so far?

Our major campaign so far has been against Solid Energy’s plans to mine and burn billions of tonnes of Southland lignite (brown coal). Now that Solid Energy has abandoned these plans, we continue to guard against other attempts to exploit Southland lignite.

We are also working on the following campaigns:

  • Preventing Bathurst Resources, an Australian coal company that has relocated to New Zealand, from carrying out its plans to mine millions of tonnes of coal by despoiling the beautiful and biodiverse Denniston Plateau.
  • Getting Fonterra (New Zealand’s third-biggest coal user after Huntly Power Station and NZ Steel) and other dairy companies to switch from using coal to using renewable sources of heat in their factories.
  • Making investment in coal mining, and the industrial use of coal, culturally unacceptable and economically impossible. This includes a campaign to encourage institutional investors to divest from coal and other fossil fuels. It also includes campaigns against coal company sponsorships, and our work to ensure a just transition from coal mining jobs into low-carbon jobs.

How can I get involved with CANA’s work?

There is lots you can do, but here are the first steps towards getting involved:

There will be plenty of opportunities to help with the coal divestment campaign, and with our other campaigns, so make sure to join us!

Newsletter July 2013

Kia Ora all

The last month or so has seen a number of revelations on several of our coal fronts.  From Solid Energy walking away from the briquetting plant in Southland to ongoing developments for Bathurst Resources’ efforts to start mining the beautiful Denniston plateau, it’s been hard to keep up with it all.  Yet still, none of them are digging up any more coal. Let’s try and keep it that way.

What’s in this update?

1.     Lignite briquetting plant

2.     Denniston update

3.     Bathurst, new neighbour in a small town

4.     Bill McKibben tour and divestment

5.     Auckland Coal Action’s fight against Fonterra’s coalmine

6.     Coming up:  Generation Zero’s “What’s the Holdup” Tour

7.     Film about “Bidder 70” coming to NZ

8.      International – and climate science catchup

9.     Other news and resources

1.  Lignite briquetting plant

The trials of the Solid Energy/GTL briquetting plant continue at Mataura, with Solid Energy announcing late last month that it will walk away from the plant.  The media covered little of this announcement, but you can find out a lot more about what’s been going on there from our press release on the day.

Given our network includes locals living near to the plant, we have been able to get a lot more information about what’s been going on there – a lot more than what the media’s been covering.  And none of it’s good.

We also managed to get, through the Official Information Act, a document showing us what we suspected: the GTL plant in North Dakota had a massive explosion and is now being dismantled.  So this technology remains experimental.  Why should beautiful Southland farmland be dug up so that GTL can continue to try out its dirty technology to sell it on to Indonesia?

Solid Energy sponsorship under scrutiny:  You may also have missed this article about the millions Solid Energy spent on sponsorship.  We call it buying out criticism and it’s something that most coal and oil companies do to stop local protest about their activities. Continue reading

Confused About The Denniston Legal Cases? Now You Don’t Have To Be

Stockton Mine on the West Coast, Photo: Peter Lusk

Stockton Mine on the West Coast, Photo: Peter Lusk

As regular readers of this blog will know, Forest & Bird and the West Coast Environment Network have been fighting an epic legal battle to prevent Bathurst Resources getting its rapacious mitts on the Denniston Plateau. Bathurst wants to rip apart this beautiful and biodiverse part of the West Coast and turn it into an open cast coalmine – pretty much like Solid Energy’s Stockton coalmine, shown here. That would be a disaster for New Zealand wildlife – and for the climate.

I have been deeply impressed by the range and depth of the legal actions Forest and Bird and WCENT have come up with – but I’ve got to admit, I’ve also become more than a little confused at times about what appeals are being heard where. Now there’s no more need to be confused, because Debs Martin, Forest & Bird’s Top of the South Field Officer, has written a wonderful article for A Voice for Nature, the South Otago Forest & Bird Newsletter, explaining exactly where things are at with the legal process. You can download this excellent newsletter and get your head around the legal process from the South Otago Forest & Bird website.

But that’s not the only place you can learn about Denniston. As well as articles on the CANA blog, there’s another Denniston article in the June issue of the Coal Action Murihiku newsletter – the editorial hand of Jane Young is what these excellent publications have in common!

Finally, for comprehensive coverage, check out the Bathurst Resources section of the Coal Swarm wiki.