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Unconscionable

Written By: - Date published: 3:00 pm, November 29th, 2010 - 23 comments
Categories: capitalism, climate change, Economy, energy, Environment - Tags: , , ,

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.

23 comments on “Unconscionable”

  1. Mr. Infinity 1

    What about aging irrelevant progressive acolyte Jim Anderton using it to foster anti-mining sentiment? What about him, eh? Is he unconscionable?

    As for Cancun collapsing, I hope so, it’ll be hilarious.

    • Colonial Viper 1.1

      Good on Jim Anderton for stepping up and taking a leadership role for the miners and on behalf of the miners that you will never see John Key or Bill English taking.

      Anderton’s veteran perspective as well as his political impeachability, now that it is clear that he will retire in due course and so has nothing to gain from his efforts politically, will provide a powerful voice for ordinary workers in the next few months.

      • dave brown 1.1.1

        Unimpeachability I think you mean…
        I have a different view of Jim Anderton but I agree on Pike River he is not milking it and was one of the first to condemn the glorification of suffering on the Coast by fat cats like Key. But I would put my faith in a revival of the old Miners Union militancy not Jim Anderton.

    • George 1.2

      Mr. Idiocy, I hope your lung collapses. It’ll be hilarious.

      IrishBill: banned for a week for pointlessness.

  2. Mr. Infinity 2

    Awww, did I huwt your fweelwings, making fun of the pointless drones crapping on about Global Warming (coldest day ever in Britain today, I know, I know weather =/= climate; except when it’s hot, right?)

    Jim Anderton is nothing but a poor man’s Winston. How many parties has he been through? 4? Labour, New Labour, Alliance and now the self aggrandising “Jim Anderton’s Progressive”. Winston however, has charm and charisma and brains and a Machiavellian streak which makes him admirable beyond political lines – Jim Anderton is a boring waste of a seat. Also I doubt his “efforts” will do jack to “help” anyone as he has no power and is not in government (thank God). Also I note Labour now supports part-privatisation and despite all their bleatings about GST, will only remove it from fresh food or something. This country isn’t exactly drifting to the right, but it is drifting towards Keyism.

    Also, back on Jim Anderton, the miners would and probably do hate him because he wants to cut their jobs in order to save a few trees.


    IrishBill: banned for a week for pointlessness.

    • Colonial Viper 2.1

      Jim Anderton is well respected amongst unionists and miners as being someone of principle and someone who will look out for workers come hell or high water. He also has the connections and the political experience to make a real difference.

      back on Jim Anderton, the miners would and probably do hate him because he wants to cut their jobs in order to save a few trees.

      Hey don’t let me stop you from living in right wing fairyland buddy.

      • Jane 2.1.1

        The west coast has a National party mp. i don’t think they like jim anderton.

        • Colonial Viper 2.1.1.1

          Hey remind me again Jane, how many votes did Jim Anderton lose by in the West Coast?

          • Jane 2.1.1.1.1

            He wasn’t. But remind me how it is possible for someone to vote National and like Jim anderton who is the opposite? What about giving me a reason why they would like someone who doesn’t support more jobs for miners, when the west coast is a mining district.

            unionists are always on the left, their support of a left winger is nothing special. real people who make up their mind with each election cycle based on the quality of policy presented by the two parties are an indicator of someones political compass. you implied when you made a b*tchy comment on mr. infinity’s post that west coast miners would like jim anderton seeing as unionists do. i hold that if they’re voting national, they wouldn’t.

            [lprent: you are currently under a ban. Won’t kill this comment as people have responded to it. Subsequent ones will get trashed.]

            • Colonial Viper 2.1.1.1.1.1

              unionists are always on the left, their support of a left winger is nothing special. real people who make up their mind

              Repeating the Right wing meme that working people, unionists and “real people” as you put it, have nothing in common with each another?

              Au contraire, their labour hours and the nation’s economic productivity due to those labour hours are what they hold completely in common, that and the struggle against the capital controlling class who act to suppress wage growth at every turn.

              you implied when you made a b*tchy comment on mr. infinity’s post that west coast miners would like jim anderton seeing as unionists do. i hold that if they’re voting national, they wouldn’t.

              A bitchy comment? Or did you mean a botchy comment? I couldn’t tell.

              Anyways, you have breakdown stats which tell you how many west coast coal miners voted national in 2008? Go on please do share.

            • BLiP 2.1.1.1.1.2

              real people who make up their mind with each election cycle based on the quality of policy presented by the two parties are an indicator of someones political compass.

              Real people? Informed people know that there are more than two parties.

    • lprent 2.2

      😈 Does read like a compendium of how to be an unoriginal drone… One boring hackneyed phrase after another.

  3. stever 3

    I’ve just noticed a word hurtling towards us from Public Address…………..watch out, twatcock!

  4. Nandor has not held back his opinions on coal:

    http://www.3news.co.nz/Pike-River—the-hard-coaled-facts/tabid/1341/articleID/188481/Default.aspx
    Pike River – the hard coaled facts
    Let’s be blunt – it is time to end the coal industry Let’s be blunt – it is time to end the coal industry
    Mon, 29 Nov 2010 1:49p.m.

    By Nandor Tanczos

    The bodies of the Pike River miners haven’t even been recovered yet and the industry PR has begun. Days before John Key’s announcement of a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the disaster, the Chief Executive of the Canterbury Employers Chamber of Commerce was on National Radio talking up the economic benefits of coal mining for the West Coast. On the same day the Grey District Mayor Tony Kokshoorn was saying that business at Pike River needs to continue. Commendably Pike River Coal itself was more circumspect, saying that the focus for now is the families.

    Most New Zealanders would agree. The nation watched alongside the families as the tragedy unfolded. People spoke about it in their lunch rooms and over cups of tea. We waited to hear the outcome, hoping to be able to celebrate some unlikely good news. We felt the shock and sadness of the families at the news of those 29 deaths. Now our thoughts and prayers are with them as they farewell the departed, those they love who have returned to the Oneness of all things.

    There are always lessons to be found in death of course – reminders of how short our time is in this life, how unpredictable the end. I feel for those whose last words to their beloved were harsh and angry, an overspill of some small irritation now made completely irrelevant. I think about the personal legacy each man left, unknown to me, but alive in the hearts of friends and family, of times shared together, of gestures of love, friendship, generosity and solidarity. The stuff that really matters once you are gone.

    In one sense, though, these men’s deaths are part of the price paid for coal. Coal mining IS dangerous. There are many things that can be done to manage and mitigate risk but we are deluding ourselves if we think we can have coal without some people dying for it. Just as we are deluding ourselves if we think we can sustain our petroleum addiction by drilling in ever more difficult and dangerous places without suffering more marine catastrophes. Fossil fuel addiction, like P addiction, has little regard for its collateral damage.

    The real destruction from continued coal mining, though, will be the deaths it causes outside the mines rather than inside them. As the world meets this week in Cancun to have another go at trying to avert a climatic disaster, there is growing concern about feedback loops such as the methane from thawing Siberian permafrost. The other big concern is the impact that coal is having on the climate – especially as the reality of peak oil hits home.

    Conventional oil production is already plateauing and will begin to dwindle. At the same time increasing demand will push prices up to record highs (prices will be erratic but the trend will be upwards). One of the likely responses will be an increase in the use of tar sands and coal-to-liquid fuel to fill the gap. In fact New Zealand’s own government owned Solid Energy has just such a plan to convert lignite coal to diesel. The world cannot afford to keep burning coal even at our current rate, never mind increasing its use through these mad schemes. At the same time the coal industry’s great hope of Carbon Capture & Storage is being increasingly discredited.

    Let’s be blunt – it is time to end the coal industry. It is important that we properly acknowledge the deaths of the 29 men at Pike River, but in the end there is a bigger question to be decided than mine safety.

    • Jenny 4.1

      This is such a dignified and considered statement from Nandor Tanczos as he dwells on these coal miners deaths, with a sensitivity and genuine concern for this terrible loss, while still raising the wider issues. In my opinion it deserves to be a post on it’s own.

      Thank you CJ.

    • Lats 4.2

      Full credit to Nandor for the sensitivity he displayed here, but isn’t this just more political point scoring? Isn’t Nandor using the tragedy on the Coast to raise an issue dear to his heart, i.e. the environmental cost of our addiction to fossil fuel? I’m sympatheitc to his point of view, but if we are going to lambast the right for using the Pike River disaster as an excuse to push their pro-mining agenda then surely we ought to be even-handed and at least be a little critical of folk from the left when they do the same to push their barrow…

      (ducks head)

      • Jenny 4.2.1

        .
        It would be hard for the right to tell Nandor to shut up for raising these issues, when they have been exploiting these deaths mercilessly to push their pro-mining agenda, for the best part of a week now.

        Still, I think it would have taken a fair amount of courage for Nandor to make this statement to counter the pro-mining propaganda coming from the MSM.

        • Lats 4.2.1.1

          Agreed, just making the comment that we ought not be seen as hypocritical. If we give the right a hard time then the left should not be immune from criticism if they start to act in a similar manner.

          • Jenny 4.2.1.1.1

            Lats you seem to be arguing that the left should shut up and cave into the pressure from the right to keep quiet during this time. All the while the right are furiously pushing their message in every media forum they can find.

            You say, “the left should not be immune from criticism if they start to act in a similar manner.”

            This is misconstruing the chain of events, I would say that the left should not be immune from criticism if they didn’t speak out.

  5. vto 5

    I have a sense of dread about what the Royal Commission of Inquiry will find..

    Given the many problems this mine has had in gestation and the fact that Pike River Coal has never had quite enough money to do things properly, I suspect the Inquiry is going to find very bad things in the way this mine was set up and the finger of blame for the disaster pointing straight at the company.

    Direct knowledge tells me one of many examples which is this – that, due to never having enough money to do it properly, money was spent drilling and investigating to prove the resource but inadequate on drilling and investigating to establish how to extract it. It was developed as it went rather than working it all out properly beforehand. Which explains the myriad major problems in gestation. They made it up as they went in.

    Keep it in mind as this unfolds …

    • ZeeBop 5.1

      Investors have been burned in the Peak River mine, Key reluctance to estimate the damage to his mining policy is understandable, but what’s not is his obsession to making worker even less safe since ACC covers accidents!
      And we know Key has been talking up the blow out in ACC! Well now its got into millions for the Pike River
      Disaster! You see Key is a speculator money man at heart, he knows immediately where the risks are and
      how to profit from them. He knows that he can appeal to his own ideological base by help stopping union
      representatives entering the workplace and doesn’t have to take any fallout when ACC balloons as a result of employees being more reticient to breach their concerns with management over safety!

      But what’s astounding to me is a business has to allow all kinds of inspectors onto the premises, is quite
      happy for its executives to have their lunches brought onto the premises, or hire third party contractors to
      do any number of jobs arouond the workplace, but if a different kind of employee wants advice on
      life and death, hires a expert in the field, then they can’t. That’s Human right for you in NZ, no avenues
      for dissent, in fact how can we say we live up to Human Rights when nobody can cite a case of their
      abuse.

      Take for instance the government use of urgency, and parliament routinely ignoring section 7 reports,
      so government basically can rush into law anti-human right legislation and never have a debate so
      no parliamentations can be held individually to accouont for supporting the breach to human rights.
      Classic, rubbish the rules, then sweep under the carpet the paper trail, Hitler would have been proud.
      This goes to the heart of a democracy, when the rule makers can both abuse and not be held to account
      by history. Shame NZ, SHAME.

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