Author Archives: cindybax

Fonterra Ignores the Big Picture

By Rosemary Penwarden

The decision by ECAN and WDC to allow Fonterra to keep on expanding, adding a new 30-tonne/hour coal-fired boiler to their Studholme milk processing plant near Waimate, reminds me of my Dad’s driving.

Fonterra Quit CoalWhen I was a kid we occasionally drove from Wanganui to Lower Hutt to visit cousins. With Dad behind the wheel it was Lower Hutt or Bust. Even a toilet stop required dire ultimatums to get the car to slow.

When Mum was behind the wheel, variables were appraised, the big picture assessed and the agenda adjusted accordingly. More often than not, that meant stops at every vegetable stand, regular side-of-the-road picnics and occasionally, much to Dad’s chagrin, detours to a stream for a quick dip before hitting the road again.

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Fonterra coal boiler decision “ridiculous”

PRESS RELEASE

Death Star 15The decision to let Fonterra build a massive, coal-fired boiler in South Canterbury is a blow for the climate and a sustainable future, and flies in the face of any regard for our grandchildren, Coal Action Network Aotearoa (CANA) said today.

Environment Canterbury and Waimate District Council today gave the go-ahead for Fonterra’s planned 30-tonne/hour coal-fired boiler at its Studholme factory just outside of Waimate.

According to an expert witness for CANA (1), this would have to see an increase in the South Canterbury/North Otago dairy herd of 270,000 cows, in order to provide enough milk to feed the factory.

In May, in the face of what it called “strong opposition,” Fonterra cut its plans back to one boiler instead of two.

“Even one new coal boiler will over-extend the environmental capacity of the area,” said Rosemary Penwarden, a grandmother, of CANA.  “We are extremely disappointed that the Commissioners didn’t take the wider impact of the plant into account in their decision – the region can’t take it.
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Chch council should drop climate deniers from expert review panel

PRESS RELEASE

The Christchurch City Council should drop the two climate deniers it recently appointed to a new panel to re-review a coastal hazards report,  Coal Action Network Aotearoa said today.

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Christchurch City Council illustration of sea level rise

As part of its district plan, the council commissioned the engineering firm Tonkin Taylor to estimate the impacts of a sea level rise of around 40cm over the next 50 years, and one metre in 100 years.

After loud local protest from potentially affected residents,  the council has appointed a new panel to conduct a second peer review of the report.  But that panel now has two well-known climate science deniers on it:  Kesten Green and Willem de Lange, whose history of climate denial has been set out on the Hot Topic blog.   Continue reading

Fonterra scraps plans for one of two coal-fired boilers, but should drop both

Press release May 5 2016

That Fonterra has decided to scrap plans to build one of two coal-fired milk driers in South Canterbury is a good start, but the company could take a step further and cancel the entire project, Coal Action Network Aotearoa (CANA) said today.

In response to strong opposition, including from CANA, Fonterra has told Environment Canterbury (1) that it no longer wants to build two coal-fired milk driers at its Studholme expansion outside Waimate in South Canterbury and has scaled plans back to just one.  It has promised that this one plant would be a hybrid that could burn up to 20 per cent biomass instead of just coal, but still hasn’t committed to burning that biomass.

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Protest outside a Fonterra distribution plant in Christchurch

“Fonterra has taken us halfway to the right point,” said Coal Action Network’s Cindy Baxter.  “It has heard our opposition, but it hasn’t quite got the full message.  It should cancel the second plant as well.”

“From our calculations, even one new boiler would require around 270,000 more cows (2) in the area to feed the plant, equivalent to plonking a city bigger than Los Angeles into the area, without a sewerage system. This is smaller than our original estimate of a Jakarta-sized footprint, but is still way more than the local environment can cope with.”

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Fonterra’s coal-fired climate folly

by Jeanette Fitzsimons

Why would Fonterra spend several million dollars on a process lasting nearly a year, seeking planning consent for a huge new milk drier that it knows will never be built?Perhaps that’s not a lot of money to them – after all, one million is only three months’ salary for their CEO.

Fonterra’s proposed Studholme project, just outside of Waimate in South Canterbury, would see two new spray driers powered by two immense coal boilers – one 65MW, the other 50.

 

one lump or twoThis is the biggest new coal burning project in the country, with the hearing happening just as our Minister for Climate Change is about to travel to New York to sign the Paris agreement where we undertook to reduce our greenhouse emissions a totally inadequate 11% below 1990 levels. (It’s even more inadequate when creative accounting turns this into more like +10%).

Fonterra is already the second biggest coal burner in the country and grew its coal use by 38% between 2008-2013. They pay lip service to climate change but in practice are totally wedded to coal.

This new plant, if it is built and runs at capacity, would produce some 100,000 tonnes a year of greenhouse gas emissions (similar to its Darfield plant), plus the much more global warming potential of the methane and nitrous oxide from nearly half a million new cows that would be required to supply the milk. Continue reading

Amid NZ coal mine closures, layoffs, do we need two new mines?

Last week was a bad week for coal mines on the West Coast.

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Work on the Denniston Plateau has now stopped.

Early in the week Solid Energy announced 24 workers would lose their jobs from the Stockton mine, and by the end of the week Bathurst announced that it is putting the Denniston mine on hold, laying off 12 workers.

Terrible news for those workers and their families.

At the heart of this is the same issue that sent Solid Energy under: plummeting coking coal prices – a price that has continued to fall, and was again cited as the reason for Solid’s new layoffs.

Over on the Denniston Plateau, Bathurst’s woes have stemmed, in the first instance, from the long-signalled closure of the Holcim plant in Westport, its biggest client. Bathurst has had to seek domestic buyers for its high grade coking coal, because of the low international price.

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More coal jobs gone, still no transition plan from Government

Press Release

With the news of 68 coal jobs going today in Huntly East Coal Mine, Coal Action Network Aotearoa called for the Government to urgently put time and effort into a national discussion on a Just Transition for workers from the failing coal industry.

68 coal jobs up in smoke, and still no sign of a transition plan

68 coal jobs up in smoke, and still no sign of a transition plan

“Huntly East’s closing was inevitable after Genesis Energy’s announcement that it will close New Zealand’s last remaining coal-fired power station. Now that Solid Energy is in administration, we can only expect more of this,” said Cindy Baxter of Coal Action Network Aotearoa.

“But where is the Government’s transition plan for these workers – and others in the future who may lose their jobs due to Solid Energy’s demise?”

Genesis already has a stockpile of 700,000 tonnes of coal, and used the announcement of Solid Energy going into administration to break its contract with the company.

Globally, the coal industry is struggling, as China and India increasingly turn to renewable energy. Last week, the largest worker layoff in China’s history saw 100,000 coal industry workers lose their jobs.

A number of US coal producers have declared bankruptcy, others are teetering, and global giants such as BHP Billiton and Glencore are putting on brave faces as they head into a worsening commodities crash.

“The Government cannot just sit back and watch as communities bear the brunt of its mismanagement of Solid Energy – these workers deserve more than that,” said Baxter.

Coal Action Network Aotearoa brought the need for a transition plan for coal industry workers and coal mining communities to the fore in its Jobs After Coal report, first released last year and updated this year.