web analytics

Calling coal to account

Written By: - Date published: 11:17 am, March 26th, 2008 - 18 comments
Categories: activism, climate change, economy - Tags: , ,

coal.jpgNew Zealand’s coal industry is a mess of contradictions. We worry about carbon emissions and Kyoto while State-owned Solid Energy exports coal to dirty Chinese factories. Rather than being energy-efficiently shipped out of Greymouth, coal from the West Coast is taken by rail over the Southern Alps because taxpayer-subsidised Toll gives SOE Solid Energy and Pike River a cut-price deal to haul the coal to Lyttelton for export. Meanwhile, we are importing coal from Indonesia for Huntly.

Greenpeace did a great job yesterday of highlighting the stupidity of these arrangements and the government’s lack of commitment on climate change by blockading the Hellenic Sea with its load of Solid energy coal (bound for France of all places) in Lyttelton harbour. Their blog account of the protest is here .

Unfortunately, that story has been tarnished by reports that while 30 Police officers were diverted from Christchurch to arrest the Greenpeace activists, a single officer received minor injuries trying to break up a brawl in the city. It is unfair to blame Greenpeace for this incident. Yes, they broke the law but the Police overreacted by sending so many officers to what they knew would be a peaceful protest. There were only six arrests, which were not resisted, and the only charges were obstruction and unlawfully getting onto a boat.

The coal industry, the Government, and the Police should review their policies in the wake of this protest action. Keep up the good work, Greenpeace.

18 comments on “Calling coal to account”

  1. Steve, I completely agree. Coal is a terrible product.
    We should all cut our throats. I am sure the rest of the planet will follow the enormous dirty polluter NZ.
    The environment will not be as big an issue for the election as it could have been.
    People struggling to pay the bills is the only big issue this election.

  2. People struggling to pay the bills is the only big issue this election.

    Yep – and that means higher wages. Something the right will resist as much as possible.

  3. Steve Pierson 3

    barnsley. what if we cut income taxes significantly, and instead, the State gets revenue by auctioning off the right to extract non-renewable resources and to pollute

  4. insider 4

    You show little understanding of the industry. The contradictions are mainly of your own construction.

    The coal imported from indonesia is lower grade power station coal. Waikato coal is not as available as it was when Huntly was developed. WC coal is not suitable.

    The coal exported from the west coast is mainly high grade anthracite coking coal mainly used for steel manufacture. India is also a major buyer and Japan in the past. It is a very valuable resource which there is no reason not to exploit.

    Why would you export from Greymouth – a dangerous shallow port that may not always be accessible when you have existing good links to a deepwater port? You have no evidence that it would be more environmentally friendly to export from Greymouth. It was requiring a major investment to even make it physically possible. And the coal was being barged to Taranaki for ship loading!

    It is not unfair to blame GP. They have a history of breaking the law and invading other’s property to disrupt their operations both here and overseas. There is also the safety issue to consider in a working port. I don’t see why the ratepayers and taxpayers of NZ should sit back and have the businesses they own be interfered with to aid GP’s self serving publicity seeking operations.

    The real contradiction is the govt owning solid energy. It is hardly a strategic asset -the resource is owned by the crown and the govt doesn’t own any other form of miners like oil, gold etc – and it could be privatised easily given prices for coal are high. Pike River was oversubscribed. It then wouldn;t carry the risk of it being devalued due to climate change policies.

  5. andy 5

    Greenpeace have no moral authority left in NZ after smashing a hole in the French Americas Cup yacht.

    While they play games and attract the media, more police resources required for their safety, they forget sometimes the police have to protect us from each other. They had to protect the protesters from the workers on the boat. I bet they didn’t know they intended to be peaceful.

    3 people on the ship, a couple of zodiacs, could have been terrorists. Our police are not mind readers. Next time your car gets stolen or your TV and the police can’t attend ask greenpeace to help!

  6. Steve Pierson 6

    andy. bro, Greenpeace notified the media of their protest once it got underway. I’ll bet they also got in contact with the Police to let them know that the disturbance in Lyttelton harbour was them. At any rate, the Police knew it was Greenpeace, not terrorists, within minutes thanks to the fact it was the bloody Rainbow Warrior that was in the Hellenic Sea’s way.

    insider. I’m aware that those are different grades of coal moving in and out of new zealand, but that is only a problem because we choose to use a different grade of coal than the one we have here.

    I think the crown owns the gold and all mineral resources – given that they are public property, shouldn’t a public comapny manage their extraction. And why would we sell a profitable company, especially when that further removes it from government regarding cliamte change policy?

  7. insider 7

    No Steve, you’re effectively suggesting that because it is local it can be used for anything, when it’s actually horses for courses because the coals have different properties and so different performance and different values. It’s like putting race fuel in a 15 year old jap import family wagon. It might work, but it will be bloody expensive and hard to get in the quantities you want.

    Why would the govt get involved in a business that is not “essential” and where there are perfectly competent operators? There are far more essential services it does not own. What value would the govt add that industry doesn’t? None that I can see.

    Why sell? well quite simply because it may be at the top of the market and it is ptentially going to damage the business’s value with policy changes. Are you saying it is a wise use of taxpayer money to hold onto an asset that could be devalued by your own actions?

    PS Crown Minerals does in effect manage the use of resources by giving licences.

  8. Steve Pierson 8

    I’ld have to look into it but I’m sure I reember seeing in the energy report that we export some of the same grade coal that we import, and tha’ts not all too surprising because these are companies operating on individual deals rather than a broader economic or social logic.

    re. crown minerals, yeah I would like to see that licencing system extended, with rights for all kinds of resource use (water fish stocks, carbon, other pollutants, minerals, etc) auctioned off, and used as a revenue stream to partially replace income tax. As with a cap and trade system it has the attraction over a resource tax in that the govt can set extraction levels directly (and that is what matters to our environment), and the price changes to match it, rather than changing the tax level to target a extraction level.

  9. Phil 9

    “but that is only a problem because we choose to use a different grade of coal than the one we have here.”

    Umm… no.
    Different grades of coal are as diverse as the difference between Bitumen, Diesel, and AvGas (But… but… but they all come from Crude Oil!)

    If you want to rebuild the Huntly station, Steve, be my guest.

  10. insider 10

    “I would like to see that licencing system extended, with rights for all kinds of resource use”

    I think that is an ACT policy…there’s hope for you yet 🙂

  11. Camryn 11

    Not really related, but I can’t help but giggle when the American coal industry (as “Americans for Balanced Energy Choices”) promotes itself (heavily) on television as “America’s Power” in ads set to Kool and the Gang’s “Celebration”. Everything is so overt here!

    http://www.americaspower.org/
    http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Americans_for_Balanced_Energy_Choices
    http://www.oldielyrics.com/lyrics/kool_the_gang/celebration.html

    P.S. Captcha is “No Levee”. Don’t tell New Orleans.

  12. insider 12

    Americans consume energy with a passion not with guilt.

  13. Tim 13

    Greenpeace are pretty mild really. I wonder what the Sea Shepherd would have done in the same situation?

  14. andy 14

    steve,

    My argument still stands, they protested in such a way as to draw the ire of people and a massive over response from the police and media and they got called on it. The police have to assess all threats and not just from a phone call from Greenpeace.

    The police have to arrest and protect them at the same time. I am sure they know better than us what amount of resources they needed, do Phillipino (at a guess) sailors understand the protest? Do you know that ocean going vessels have lots of guns on board to stop piracy, now that would have been news.

  15. Pat 15

    Maybe if the police had sent 30 officers to the Rainbow Warrior bombing, they would have caught all the French Terrorists.

    When will they get it?

    From the Vietnam protests to the anti-aparthied demos, from Bastion Pt. to the anti-nuclear movement, the police in this country have always been on the wrong side of history.

  16. andy 16

    Pat,

    Do you think the police had to go with ‘overwhelming force’, to look like they are doing something! I do, as they knew the media would be there on mass (is perfect for tv and we all can see that)

    The police are in a catch 22, greenpeace should be embarrased by thse actions.

    BTW its not their job to ‘get it’ and what is it that they have to get? I bet you were disgusted by the boy racers in ChCh recently? What if they ignored them and said they were just harmless protesters ? You would have been up in arms and calling for them to do something! They have a job to keep the peace, protect people and ‘property’, they never stop legitimate protest (sams Jenny Shipleys time). What did Green peace do, risk peoples lives (thier own) and invade or restrict others property rights. You are talking about history over 20 years ago. The police on the front line today were probably not even born!

    Maybe you don’t get it! Peaceful protest is legal, how can greenpeace justify non peaceful protest when ‘peace’ is part of thier brand! How many were arrested? from the coal ship?

  17. Dale 17

    There were two very large ships involved and many crew so the number of police required was large.What GreenPeace did was to put peoples lives in danger,the sea conditions were not that calm. It was a publicity stunt to start off their nation wide tour to gain new members and generate cash. I think they may have lost more support than they gained.I hope those prosicuted will face the full force of the law and have the book thrown at them. Piracy is a very serious offence. If GreenPeace had any BALLS they would do it in a Chinese Port.

  18. insider 18

    Wonder if their ship is made from steel produced using coking coal?

    I’m sure it runs on biodiesel too. But of course it’s do as we say not do as we do with GP, or is it the ends justifies the means?

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

  • Just 8 per cent of work visas for skills shortages
    Just 16,000 – or 8 per cent – of the 209,000 work visas issued last year were for occupations for which there is an identified skills shortage, says Labour Immigration spokesperson Iain Lees-Galloway. “The overwhelming majority of the record number ...
    14 hours ago
  • Hard won agreement shouldn’t be thrown away
    The Government should ignore talk across the Tasman about doing away with the labelling of GM free products, says Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King. “Labelling of genetically modified products was a hard won agreement in 2001 by Australian and the ...
    14 hours ago
  • National’s privatisation Trojan horse
     The National government is using the need to modernise the school system as a Trojan horse for privatisation and an end to free public education as we know it, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says.  “There is no doubt that ...
    14 hours ago
  • Shameless land-banking ads show need for crackdown
    The fact that more than 300 sections are shamelessly being advertised on Trade Me as land-banking opportunities during a housing crisis shows the need for a crackdown on property speculators, Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little says. “Of the 328 ...
    15 hours ago
  • Standard and Poor’s warning of housing crisis impact on banks
    The National Government’s failure to address the housing crisis is leading to dire warnings from ratings agency Standard and Poor’s about the impact on the strength of the economy and New Zealand banks, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “Standard ...
    16 hours ago
  • Ihumatao needs action not sympathy
    The Petition of Save Our Unique Landscape (SOUL) calling on Parliament to revoke Special Housing Area 62 in order to protect the Ihumatao Peninsula and Stonefields, has fallen on deaf ears, says the Labour MP for Mangere Su’a William Sio.  ...
    18 hours ago
  • Student visa fraud & exploitation must stop
    The Government must act immediately to end fraud and exploitation of international students that threatens to damage New Zealand’s reputation, Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little says. ...
    1 day ago
  • Government needs to show leadership in reviewing monetary policy
    The Reserve Bank’s struggles to meet its inflation target, the rising exchange rate and the continued housing crisis shows current monetary policy needs to be reviewed - with amendments to the policy targets agreement a bare minimum, says Labour’s Finance ...
    2 days ago
  • Slash and burn of special education support
    Slashing the support for school age children with special needs is no way to fund earlier intervention, Labour’s Education Spokesperson Chris Hipkins says.  “National’s latest plan to slash funding for children with special needs over the age of 7 in ...
    3 days ago
  • National’s Pasifika MPs must have free vote
      Pacific people will not take kindly to the Government whipping their Pacific MPs to vote in favour of a  Bill that will allow Sunday trading  at Easter, says Labour’s Pacific Island Affairs spokesperson Su’a William Sio.  “We are seeing ...
    5 days ago
  • Maritime Crimes Bill – balancing security and free speech
    Parliament is currently considering the Maritime Crimes Amendment Bill, which would bring New Zealand up to date with current international rules about maritime security. The debate around the Bill reflects two valid issues: legitimate counter-terrorism measures and the right to ...
    GreensBy Kennedy Graham
    6 days ago
  • Teachers’ low wages at the centre of shortages
      Figures that show teachers’ wages have grown the slowest of all occupations is at the heart of the current teacher shortage, says Labour’s Education Spokesperson Chris Hipkins.  In the latest Labour Cost Index, education professionals saw their wages grow ...
    6 days ago
  • Government’s Tax Law undermines common law principles
    A tax amendment being snuck in under the radar allows changes to tax issues to be driven through by the Government without Parliamentary scrutiny, says Labour’s Revenue spokesman Stuart Nash. “The amendment allows any part of the Tax Administration Act ...
    6 days ago
  • Government slippery about caption funding
      The Government has refused to apologise for taking the credit for funding Olympic Games captioning when the National Foundation for the Deaf  was responsible, says Labour’s spokesperson on Disability Issues Poto Williams.  “This shameful act of grandstanding by Ministers ...
    7 days ago
  • Default KiwiSaver investments should be reviewed
    The investments of the default KiwiSaver providers should be reviewed to make sure they are in line with New Zealanders’ values and expectations, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “Most New Zealanders would be appalled that their KiwiSaver funds are ...
    7 days ago
  • New ministry should look after all children
    The Government has today shunned well founded pleas by experts not to call its new agency the Ministry for Vulnerable Children, Labour’s Spokesperson for Children Jacinda Ardern says.  “Well respected organisations and individuals such as Children's Commissioner Judge Andrew Becroft ...
    7 days ago
  • Ratification okay but we need action
    Today’s decision to ratify the Paris agreement on Climate Change by the end of the year is all well and good but where is the plan, says Labour’s Climate Change spokesperson Megan Woods.  “The Government’s failure to plan is planning ...
    1 week ago
  • Stats changes can’t hide unemployment reality
    Today’s minor drop in unemployment numbers is nothing to celebrate given the changes made to the official numbers that cut thousands of people looking for work out of the jobless rate, says Labour’s Employment spokesperson Grant Robertson. “Making any comparisons ...
    1 week ago
  • Stats changes can’t hide unemployment reality
    Today’s minor drop in unemployment numbers is nothing to celebrate given the changes made to the official numbers that cut thousands of people looking for work out of the jobless rate, says Labour’s Employment spokesperson Grant Robertson. “Making any comparisons ...
    1 week ago
  • Auckland’s affordable homes plummet 72% under National
    Comprehensive new data from CoreLogic has found the number of homes in Auckland valued at under $600,000 has plummeted by 72 per cent since National took office, Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little says. “This data tracks the changes in ...
    1 week ago
  • Govt should face the facts not skew the facts
    National appears to be actively massaging official unemployment statistics by changing the measure for joblessness to exclude those looking online, says Labour’s Employment spokesperson Grant Robertson. “The Household Labour Force Survey, released tomorrow, no longer regards people job hunting on ...
    1 week ago
  • More voices call for review of immigration policy
    The Auckland Chamber of Commerce is the latest credible voice to call for a review of immigration and skills policy, leaving John Key increasingly isolated, says Opposition Leader Andrew Little. “The Prime Minister is rapidly becoming a man alone. He ...
    1 week ago
  • Better balance needed in Intelligence Bill
    Labour will support the NZ Intelligence and Security Bill to select committee so the issues can be debated nationwide and important amendments can be made, says Opposition Leader Andrew Little. ...
    1 week ago
  • Serco circus has no place in NZ
    A High Court judgment proves National’s private prison agenda has failed and the Serco circus has no place in New Zealand correctional facilities, Labour’s Corrections spokesperson Kelvin Davis says. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • State house sell-off a kick in the guts for Tauranga’s homeless
    The Government’s sale of 1124 state houses in Tauranga won’t house a single extra homeless person in the city, says Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. “Tauranga, like the rest of New Zealand, has a crisis of housing affordability and homelessness. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Axing Auckland’s affordable quota disappointing
    Auckland Council has given away a useful tool for delivering more affordable housing by voting to accept the Independent Hearing Panel’s recommendation to abolish affordable quotas for new developments, says Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Ae Marika! Māori Party Oath Bill fails
    The Māori Party must reconsider its relationship with National after they failed to support Marama Fox’s Treaty of Waitangi Oath bill, Labour’s Maori Development Spokesperson Kelvin Davis says. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Police Minister all platitudes no detail
    The Police Minister must explain where the budget for new police officers is coming from after continuously obfuscating, Labour’s Police spokesperson Stuart Nash says. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Lost luggage law shows National’s lost the plot
    The Government has proven it can’t address the big issues facing the tourism industry by allowing a Members Bill on lost luggage to be a priority, Labour’s Tourism spokesman Kris Faafoi said. “Nuk Korako’s Bill drawn from the Members’ Ballot ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Hiding behind the law – but can’t say which law
    National is refusing to come clean on what caused the potential trade dispute with China by hiding behind laws and trade rules they can’t even name, says Labour’s Trade and Export Growth spokesperson David Clark. “National admitted today that an ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Work visas issued for jobs workless Kiwis want
    Thousands of work visas for low-skilled jobs were issued by the Government in the past year despite tens of thousands of unemployed Kiwis looking for work in those exact occupations, Labour’s Immigration spokesperson Iain Lees-Galloway says. “A comparison of the ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Kiwis nationwide now paying for housing crisis
    The Government’s failure to tackle the housing crisis is now affecting the entire country with nationwide house price inflation in the past year hitting 26 per cent, Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says. “None of National’s tinkering or half-baked, piecemeal ...
    2 weeks ago
  • OCR cut piles pressure on Government
    Today’s OCR cut must be backed by Government action on housing and economic growth, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “Reserve Bank Governor Graeme Wheeler’s monetary policy statement underlines the limits of Bill English’s economic management. He says growth is ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Government must explain the McClay delay
    Todd McClay must explain why it took two months for him to properly inform the Prime Minister about China’s potential trade retaliation, says Labour’s Trade and Export Growth spokesperson David Clark. “This may be one of the most serious trade ...
    2 weeks ago
  • OCR cut would be vote of no confidence in economy
    If Reserve Bank Governor Graeme Wheeler cuts the OCR tomorrow it would show that, despite his loudly-voiced concerns about fuelling the housing market, the stuttering economy is now a bigger concern, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “Bill English and ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Leading medical experts back Healthy Homes Bill
    Leading medical experts have today thrown their weight behind my Healthy Homes Guarantee Bill, saying it will improve the health of Kiwi kids, Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little says. “The Bill sets minimum standards for heating, insulation and ventilation ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Minister, it’s time to listen to the Auditor General
    Minister of Health Jonathan Coleman needs to listen to the independent advice of the Auditor General and review the capital charge system imposed on District Health Boards, says Labour’ Health Spokesperson Annette King.  “The capital charge on DHBs has been ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Peas explain, Minister
    The Minister of Primary Industries needs to explain how the failure of its biosecurity systems led to the Pea Weevil incursion in the Wairarapa, Labour’s Primary Industries spokesperson Damien O’Connor says “The decision to ban the growing of peas in ...
    2 weeks ago
  • PM’s police numbers wrong
    The Prime Minister has said that police numbers will increase in-line with population growth, however, the Police’s own four year strategy clearly states there are no plans to increase police numbers for the next four years, Labour’s Police spokesperson Stuart ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Ministerial double speak on GP Fees
      The Associate Health Minister Sam Lotu-Iiga was simply making it up when he claimed today that General Practitioners had been given money in the Budget to lower fees, says Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King.  “In a reply to a ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Government must close loophole in LVR rules
    The Government must urgently close a loophole in loan to value ratio mortgage restrictions which are stopping homeowners from buying new houses before they sell their old one, Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says. “The Reserve Bank was forced to ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Bulk funding means bigger classes
    National’s plan to bulk fund schools can only result in bigger class sizes and a reduced range of subject choices, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Time for John Key to sack his Housing Minister
    It is time for the Prime Minister to take serious and meaningful steps to address the housing crisis – and start by sacking Nick Smith as Housing Minister, Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little says. “Clearly whatever it is National ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Coleman puts skids under cheaper GP visits
      Hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders with high health needs are missing out on cheaper GP fees as the cost of going to the doctor hits $70, Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King says.  “The number of practices subsidised to ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Police indifference over dine-and-dash appalling
      The fact that the police couldn’t be bothered investigating a dine–and-dash in Auckland is appalling and shows an indifference that is unacceptable, says Labour’s Police spokesperson Stuart Nash.  “The way it stands these men have got away scot free ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Covenant promises new deal for our children
    A covenant drawn up by Judge Carolyn Henwood  promises an important new deal for New Zealand’s children, says Labour’s spokesperson for Children Jacinda Ardern.  “It’s important that this covenant is a pledge to all children in this country. ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Flagship fund more housing policy on the fly
    The Government’s flagship $1 billion Housing Infrastructure Fund was so rushed it wasn’t considered until after the Budget and announced just a month later, Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little says. “Documents obtained by Labour through Written Parliamentary Questions show ...
    3 weeks ago

Public service advertisements by The Standard

Current CO2 level in the atmosphere