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Friday, December 27, 2013

erf Green Paper Surprise No 1

The Tony Abbott Coalition Government released its "Emissions Reductions Fund - Green Paper" for comment on 20 December 2013.

One surprise is revealed in three tables at pages 10 and 11.

In fact there is more than one surprise. Australia DOUBLED its Gross Domestic Product with 22 years of continuous economic growth with NO increase in emissions: Table 1.2 showing the emissions intensity of the Australian economy from 1990 - 2012.

What is a real surprise is hidden in the projected growth in emissions of the Australian economy for 2012 - 2020.
As Australia DOUBLED its Gross Domestic Product with 22 years of uninterrupted economic growth from 1990 to 2012 with NO increase in emissions, what has possessed the Australian Government to PLAN to INCREASE emissions by 85 million tonnes of CO2 a year in just 8 years to 2020?
Extra points are to be awarded for any member of Tony Abbott's government who, while answering the above question, is able to justify the cost to the taxpayer of its Direct Action policy - given that this is made far more expensive as a result of the government's own PLAN to INCREASE emissions in the next 8 years.

Without this plan to saddle the Australian economy with 85 million tonnes of ADDITIONAL emissions a year, the cost to taxpayers to CUT emissions would be A LOT LESS!

Emissions intensity of the Australian economy, 1990 - 2012

Change in emissions of the Australian economy, 2000 - 2012

Projected growth in emissions of the Australian economy, 2012 - 2020

Projected emissions growth to 2020 is dominated by direct combustion and fugitive emissions associated with the production of energy resources. The key driver of this growth is the expected strong export demand for Australia’s natural resources, particularly liquefied natural gas (LNG) and coal.

An expansion in Australian coal production is projected to be the main driver of growth in fugitive emissions, as new mines are developed to meet export demand. The rapid expansion of the Australian LNG industry, which is likely to see Australia’s LNG production quadruple to 2020, is the main contributor to growth in direct combustion due to the use of natural gas to run stationary equipment at LNG facilities.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Reducing Carbon Pollution From Power Plants

On Sept. 20, 2013, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced its first steps under President Obama’s Climate Action Plan to reduce carbon pollution from power plants. Power plants are the largest stationary source of carbon pollution in the United States: about one third of all greenhouse gas pollution in the U.S. comes from the generation of electricity by power plants.
New South Wales bush fires occur more frequently
New South Wales bush fires occur more frequently

In the Clean Air Act, Congress recognized that the opportunity to build emissions controls into a source’s design is greater for new sources than for existing sources, so it laid out different approaches to set the two types of standards. Today EPA is proposing carbon pollution standards for power plants built in the future and is kicking off the process of engagement with states, stakeholders, and the public to establish carbon pollution standards for currently operating power plants.

The proposed standards for new power plants are the first uniform national limits on the amount of carbon pollution that future power plants will be allowed to emit. The proposed standards are in line with investments in clean energy technologies that are already being made in the power sector. The proposal ensures that the nation will continue to rely on a diverse mix of energy sources, including efficient natural gas, advanced coal technology, nuclear power, and renewable energy like wind and solar.


  • Carbon pollution stays in the atmosphere and contributes to climate change, which is one of the most significant public health challenges of our time. 
  •  Unchecked carbon pollution leads to long-lasting changes in our climate, such as rising global temperatures; rising sea level; changes in weather and precipitation patterns; and changes in ecosystems, habitats and species diversity. 
  • Public health risks include more heat waves and drought; worsening smog (also called ground-level ozone pollution); increasing the intensity of extreme events, like hurricanes, extreme precipitation and flooding; and increasing the range of ticks and mosquitoes, which can spread disease such as Lyme disease and West Nile virus. 
  •  Our most vulnerable citizens, including children, older adults, people with heart or lung disease and people living in poverty are most at risk from the impacts of climate change.


  • This proposal will protect public health and address climate change while ensuring reliable, affordable, and clean power for American businesses and families. 
  • This standard ensures that power companies investing in new fossil fuel-fired power plants – which often operate for more than 40 years – will use technologies that limit emissions of harmful carbon pollution. 
  • This new proposal sets standards for different types of new power plants while maintaining a similar level of environmental protection. It reflects recent trends in the electric power sector and additional information, including the more than 2.5 million comments submitted by the public on the April 2012 proposal. 
  • The proposed standards will put national limits on the amount of carbon pollution that new power plants, built in the future, are allowed to emit. The standards will minimize carbon pollution by guaranteeing reliance on advanced technologies like efficient natural gas units and efficient coal units implementing partial carbon capture and storage (CCS). 
  • EPA’s rule reflects an ongoing trend in the power sector—a shift toward cleaner power plants that take advantage of modern technologies that will become the next generation of power plants. EPA’s rule ensures this progress continues. 
  • Because these standards are in line with current industry investment patterns, these standards are not expected to have notable costs and are not projected to impact electricity prices or reliability. 
  • U.S. Department of Energy, EPA and industry projections indicate that new power plants that are built over the next decade or more would be expected to meet these standards even in the absence of the rule.

Further reading -

U.S. Department of Energy. Coal gasification offers one of the most versatile and clean ways to convert coal into electricity, hydrogen, and other valuable energy products.

Basin Electric, through its for-profit subsidiary, Dakota Gasification Company (Dakota Gas) owns and operates the Great Plains Synfuels Plant. The Synfuels Plant is the only commercial-scale coal gasification plant in the U.S. that manufactures natural gas. It is located five miles northwest of Beulah, North Dakota.

The Coal Can Do That article "Coal-to-Gas is Off-the-Shelf Energy Solution" from February 2009 by Dr. Frank Clemente.

"EPA FACT SHEET: Reducing Carbon Pollution From Power Plants"

Coal and Natural Gas power plants

Monday, December 16, 2013

Sound advice from General Electric falls on deaf ears

The Coalition Government of Tony Abbott has published advice it requested on changing Australia's climate change policy:

Repealing the Carbon Tax - Public comments

Cleaner Environment Plan - Abbott Government
Cleaner Environment Plan - Abbott Government
It received public comments such as:
  • GE participated in the development of the Clean Energy Future package through the Multi-Party Climate Change Committee process, and GE has advocated for a market-based approach to carbon pricing internationally, including in the United States.
  • Notwithstanding the Government's pledge for the Environment Minister to introduce legislation to enact the Coalition's Direct Action Plan "as soon as the carbon tax is repealed", GE would prefer the legislation to repeal the Clean Energy Future package was accompanied by the legislation for the programs to replace it.
  • GE believes such a conjoined approach would minimize uncertainty in any transition to new arrangements, particularly for the complementary and bipartisan initiatives such as the Renewable Energy Target IRET), Carbon Farming Initiative and commitment to a 5% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions over 2000 levels by 2020.
The Coalition Government of Tony Abbott ignores the public comments it receives.

The Great Barrier Reef vs the Queensland State Budget

Royalty revenue 

Dugong swimming in Queensland
Queensland - beautiful one day, a cesspit the next

Queensland Budget Strategy and Outlook 2013-14, page 54 

Royalty revenue grew strongly between 2000-01 and 2007-08, with growth in revenue in excess of 50% in both 2004-05 and 2005-06. In contrast to the other key discretionary revenues, royalty revenues reached a peak in 2008-09, as record coal prices had been contracted prior to the onset of the global financial crisis. Royalty revenue then fell significantly in 2009-10, along with coal contract prices, and has not yet returned to the levels of 2008-09.

Royalty revenue is estimated to have declined in 2012-13, primarily due to the current weakness in coal prices and high A$-US$ exchange rate. However,
  • royalties are expected to recover from 2013-14 onwards, 
  • supported by steady growth in export volumes
  • a recovery in coal prices and 
  • the exchange rate depreciating. 
The average growth rates projected across the forward estimates are still substantially lower than experienced during the 2000s, which was driven by sharp increases in price to a greater extent than volume growth.

Ignore greenies on reef dredging: Qld govt

December 12, 2013 (

Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney says activists will say anything to shut down the coal industry.

He says the public shouldn't be fooled by their "alarmist" response to the Abbot Point dredging project.

The federal government this week gave the green light for the massive project to expand the coal terminal in north Queensland.

The approval allows about three million cubic metres of dredge spoil to be dumped in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.