Fri. Jun 14th, 2024

A regional NSW community group’s court case will be the first ever legal challenge testing the failure of the State Government to control dangerous methane emissions from coal mines, which make an enormous contribution to climate change.

Methane emissions are 84 times more polluting to the climate over 20 years than carbon dioxide emissions, and recent research by the SuperPower Institute suggests that methane emissions from open cut coal mines are likely double what is currently reported.

The Maules Creek Community Council, represented by the Environmental Defenders Office, is pursuing the case in part because the NSW EPA failed to consider how Whitehaven Coal’s environmental protection licence could reduce dangerous greenhouse gas pollution and other pollutants at the company’s controversial Maules Creek Coal Mine.

Lock the Gate Alliance says the shocking new research on methane pollution from coal mines and this first test of the EPA’s failure to regulate, along with news NSW is predicted to fall short on climate targets, is a perfect storm demanding a new approach.

The Maules Creek Community Council’s challenge against the EPA was heard in the Land and Environment Court yesterday (Tuesday 14th May). The link to the hearing is available here.

Lock the Gate Alliance NSW Coordinator Nic Clyde said, “We’re at a crucial time in NSW. Extreme weather driven by the burning of fossil fuels and resulting climate change is wreaking havoc with the lives of NSW residents.”

“However, so far, we have not seen the urgent action required to reduce direct greenhouse gases from mining, and the EPA appears unwilling to enforce its own guidelines that would limit the release of dangerous coal mine methane.”

“This case, brought by Maules Creek Community Council, is hugely important because it takes aim at the EPA’s ability to bring down emissions of methane. It is the first time this issue has been tested.”

“Putting greenhouse gas limits on existing pollution licences was one of the key actions in the EPA’s climate change action plan released more than a year ago.”

“Yet, four months after adopting that plan, the EPA reviewed Maules Creek coal mine’s pollution licence and missed a crucial opportunity to put its own plan into action.”

“New South Wales has to urgently reduce methane emissions in order to meet its own climate targets, following news in recent weeks that the state is not on track to meet those targets.”

“For the state to stand a chance of meeting its emissions reduction responsibilities, the EPA needs to be willing to use every tool available to it.”

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