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?

Leave a Comment

Show Tags

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

  • Bring back the Mental Health Commission
    The People’s Mental Health Review is a much needed wake up call for the Government on mental health, says the Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little.   “I applaud their proposal to restore a Mental Health Commission and their call for ...
    9 hours ago
  • And the band played on…
    Making Amy Adams the Housing Minister five months out from the election is just the orchestra playing on as National’s Titanic housing crisis slips below the waves – along with the hopes and dreams of countless Kiwi families, says Labour’s ...
    9 hours ago
  • Hotel no place for children in care
    ...
    3 days ago
  • Maybe not, Minister? Nick Smith’s housing measure suppressed
    Sir Humphrey: Minister, remember the Housing Affordability Measure work you asked us to prepare back in 2012? Well, it’s ready now.Minister Smith: Oh goodie, what does it say?Sir Humphrey: Nothing.Minister Smith: Nothing?Sir Humphrey: Well, sir, you asked us to prepare ...
    4 days ago
  • Inflation data shows many New Zealanders are worse off under National
    The latest inflation data from Statistics New Zealand shows that too many New Zealanders are now worse off under the National Government, said Labour’s Finance Spokesperson Grant Robertson “Consumer Price Inflation (CPI) is now running at 2.2 per cent, and ...
    4 days ago
  • Another emergency housing grant blow out
      Emergency housing grants data released today show another blow out in spending on putting homeless people up in motels, says Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford.   ...
    4 days ago
  • Families struggle as hardship grants increase
    The considerable increase in hardship grants shows that more and more Kiwi families are struggling to put food on the table and pay for basic schooling, says Labour’s Social Development spokesperson Carmel Sepuloni. ...
    4 days ago
  • More tinkering, no leadership from Nats on immigration
    National’s latest tinkering with the immigration system is another attempt to create the appearance of action without actually doing anything meaningful, says Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little. ...
    5 days ago
  • Suicide figures make for grim reading
    The 506 suspected suicides of Kiwis who have been in the care of mental health services in the last four years show that these services are under severe stress, says Labour’s Health spokesperson David Clark.   “If you do the ...
    6 days ago
  • Pay equity deal a victory for determination and unions
    The pay equity settlement revealed today for around 55,000 low-paid workers was hard-won by a determined Kristine Bartlett backed by her union, up against sheer Government resistance to paying Kiwis their fair share, says Labour Leader Andrew Little. “Labour welcomes ...
    7 days ago
  • DHB’s forced to make tough choices
    The Minister of Health today admitted that the country’s District Health Boards were having to spend more than their ring fenced expenditure on Mental Health, says Labour’s Health spokesperson David Clark.   “The situation is serious with Capital and Coast ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Nats break emergency housing pledge – deliver just five more places
    Despite National’s promises of 2,200 emergency housing beds, just 737 were provided in the March Quarter, an increase of only five from six months earlier, says Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Research underlines need for KiwiBuild
    New research showing the social and fiscal benefits of homeownership underlines the need for a massive government-backed building programme like KiwiBuild, says Labour’s housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Social data security review too little, too late
    The independent review into the Ministry of Social Development’s individual client level data IT system is too little, too late, says Labour’s Social Development spokesperson Carmel Sepuloni. “The Minister of Social Development has finally seen some sense and called for ...
    2 weeks ago
  • More questions raised on CERA conflicts
    With the admission that three more former CERA staff members are under suspicion of not appropriately managing conflicts of interest related to the Canterbury rebuild, it’s imperative that CERA’s successor organisation Ōtākaro fronts up to Parliamentary questions, says Labour’s Canterbury ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Labour to tackle Hutt housing crisis
    Labour will build a mix of 400 state houses and affordable KiwiBuild homes in the Hutt Valley in its first term in government to tackle the housing crisis there, says Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little. “Housing in the Hutt ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Farewell to John Clarke
    This wonderfully talented man has been claimed by Australia, but how I remember John Clarke is as a young Wellington actor who performed satirical pieces in a show called “Knickers” at Downstage Theatre. The show featured other future luminaries like ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty
    2 weeks ago
  • Valedictory Speech
    Te papa pounamu Aotearoa NZ Karanga karanga karanga; Nga tupuna Haere haere haere; Te kahui ora te korowai o tenei whare; E tu e tu ... tutahi tonu Ki a koutou oku hoa mahi ki Te Kawanatanga; Noho mai noho ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Buck stops with Gerry Brownlee
    The fact that the State Services Commission has referred the CERA conflict of interest issue to the Serious Fraud Office is a positive move, but one that raises serious questions about the Government’s oversight of the rebuild, says Labour Canterbury ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Teachers deserve a democratic Education Council
    Teachers around New Zealand reeling from the news that their registration fees could more than double will be even angrier that the National Government has removed their ability to have any say about who sits on the Council that sets ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Free trade backers are simply out of touch
    Are the backers of free trade out of touch with public opinion? This was the question asked when the Chartered Accountants launched their Future of Trade study. I was astonished by the answer in a room of free trade enthusiasts ...
    GreensBy Barry Coates
    2 weeks ago
  • John Clarke aka Fred Dagg will be missed by all Kiwis
    The man who revolutionised comedy on both sides of the Tasman, John Clarke, will be sadly missed by Kiwis and Aussies alike, says the Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little.   “I grew up with Fred Dagg and I am ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Labour’s modern approach to monetary policy
    A commitment to full employment and a more transparent process to provide market certainty are the hallmarks of Labour’s proposals for a new approach to monetary policy, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Greens back Labour’s plan for monetary policy reform
    Labour plans to change the way we do monetary policy in New Zealand and the Green Party supports them fully. We’re now of a single mind on this. Labour will move away from our reliance on a single, unelected person ...
    GreensBy robert.ashe
    2 weeks ago
  • Greens back Labour’s monetary policy reform
    Labour plans to change the way we do monetary policy in New Zealand and the Green Party supports them fully. We’re now of a single mind on this. Labour will move away from our reliance on a single, unelected person ...
    GreensBy James Shaw
    2 weeks ago
  • Govt drops ball on Masters Games housing squeeze
    Families currently living in emergency accommodation face being forced out onto the street as motel accommodation in Auckland is filled up by contestants and visitors of the World Masters Games in coming weeks, says Labours social development spokesperson Carmel Sepuloni. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • State inquiry for Nga Morehu – The Survivors of State Abuse
    The Prime Minister must show humanitarian leadership and launch an independent inquiry into historic claims of abuse of children who were in State care, says Labour’s Deputy Leader Jacinda Ardern. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Coleman – ‘overwhelmed by disinterest’ and ‘conked out’
    Today’s trenchant criticism of the Government’s health policy by Ian Powell the executive director of the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists must trigger action by the Minister, says Labour’s spokesperson for Health David Clark. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Statement on Syria
    Like the rest of the world, I have been horrified at the chemical attack on innocent Syrians that led to the deaths of so many men, women and children,” says Labour Leader Andrew Little. “The deliberate attack on civilians as ...
    2 weeks ago
  • The hard truth about that soft drink ad
    I am relieved that Pepsi has pulled its ridiculous commercial that obscenely co-opted the #BlackLivesMatter movement. At the very least, it was an awkward failure that tried too hard to be something it could never be. At its worst, it ...
    GreensBy Marama Davidson
    2 weeks ago
  • Journalism Matters: Interesting the public in the public interest
    Last week I launched two policies to support Kiwi journalism because as Bill Moyers put it, “the quality of democracy and the quality of journalism is deeply intertwined.” Journalism matters because it’s how we discover what’s happening in our world, ...
    GreensBy Gareth Hughes
    2 weeks ago
  • Homeownership rate hits new low; KiwiBuild needed now
    The homeownership rate has fallen to just 63.1 per cent, according to Statistics New Zealand’s newly released Dwelling and Household estimates. That’s down three per cent under National to the lowest level since 1951, confirming the need for Labour’s KiwiBuild ...
    2 weeks ago
  • OECD endorses Labour’s Future of Work approach
    An OECD report released today, highlighting the need for increased support for workers who are made redundant, is a strong endorsement of the direction of Labour’s Future of Work Commission, says Labour’s Employment spokesperson Grant Robertson. “We welcome the OECD’s ...
    3 weeks ago
  • The Government knows diddly squat about health funding
    Asked about the funding of the Auckland Regional Public Health Service, the Associate Minister of Health was at sea today on the typhoid outbreak, says Labour’s Health spokesperson David Clark.   “When I asked Nicky Wagner who was responsible for the ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Nicky Wagner blames disability workers for Govt’s funding failure
    Nicky Wagner displayed disrespect and sheer arrogance when she insulted disability support workers today, says Labour’s Disability Issues spokesperson Poto Williams. ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Parata in denial over special education crisis
    Hekia Parata has her head buried in the sand when it comes to the pressure that schools are under as they attempt to cope with an increasing number of children with severe behavioural and other learning support needs, says Labour’s ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Data-for-funding move hits Privacy roadblock
    The Government’s much-criticised grab for private client data from social service organisations has suffered another defeat after the Privacy Commissioner’s damning report, says Labour’s Social Development spokesperson Carmel Sepuloni. “This is a defeat for the Government’s plans to force social ...
    3 weeks ago
  • New research shows need for government-led house building
    Research by economist Shamubeel Eaqub shows the need for the government to lead the building of affordable starter homes, as would happen under Labour’s KiwiBuild policy, says Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Kiwis need answers on typhoid outbreak
      The Ministry of Health wasn’t told about the typhoid outbreak until 11 days after three people from the same church were admitted to hospital, says Labour’s spokesperson for Health David Clark.   “It is no longer credible for the Minister ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Maori Party gets it wrong again on RMA
    The Māori Party is missing the big picture on National’s Resource Management Act reforms by supporting a fundamentally flawed Bill, says Labour’s Local Government spokesperson Meka Whaitiri. ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Maori Party error own goal on GM
    The Maori Party amendment to the Resource Legislation Amendment Bill does not achieve what they say it does on genetic modification, says Labour’s Environment spokesperson David Parker. “Their amendment relates to the new powers given to the Minister to over-ride ...
    3 weeks ago