Written By: - Date published: 3:00 pm, November 29th, 2010 - 23 comments
Categories: capitalism, climate change, Economy, energy, Environment - Tags: gerry brownlee, lignite, Mining, ministry for the environment
A couple of comments by one of the commentators on the Standard stuck in my mind. Jenny drew attention to the fact that the Commissioner for the Environment had pulled the “Lignite and Climate Change: The High Cost of Low Grade Coal” report that was initially to be released last Tuesday.
I don’t buy the Commissioners comment, just minutes before the report’s release and at a time when the 29 Pike River miners were still assumed to be alive, that the initial timing for the report was ‘inappropriate’. If the timing was inappropriate then, then one is left to wonder when and how would one deem it appropriate to publish?
To be clear. The extraction of lignite has nothing to do with the type of mining operation that was under way at Pike River. Tellingly in my book, the proposition is to mine lignite to produce diesel.
Now, far be it for me to suggest that political pressure was brought to bear on the Commissioner for the Environment. And far be it for me to speculate that Gerry ‘Sexy Coal’ Brownlie might be rather happy to sit back and silently observe any attempts under way to turn any debate about coal into a highly emotive and dishonest one getting a clear run.
But from where I sit, Pike River and the emotional reactions surrounding the deaths of the miners are being cynically exploited by pro mining parties seeking, not simply less restrictive environmental protections with regards mining in our conservation estate, but to pre-emptively strike down and neutralise any potential support for a report that focuses on a far more questionable utilisation of mining technology and the questionable propositions associated with lignite extraction re, what the coal could be used for.
Last Friday, Jenny commented on what might have been the initial emergence of pro-mining arguments from last Thursday. Two days after the Lignite report’s release was delayed, intellectually bankrupt and potentially emotive suggestions that the miners at Pike River died, not because of some natural and unfortunate occurrence or because of any faulty mine management, but because of objections to mining were surfacing.
And as Marty’s Sickening attempts at political point-scoring post highlights, the subtle vilification of anyone objecting to mining operations is well under way and gathering apace. The parameters for permissible and sensible debate may already have been laid to waste by the time the Lignite and Climate Change report is released. Never mind climate collapse and the, probably by then, collapsed Cancun talks. Or the fact that the report is about the extraction of certain types of coal, its use and climate collapse. Support of the reports findings will be subtly associated in many minds with somehow countenancing the deaths of miners. And that will be the beginnings and ends of any debate.