Climate change should be a factor in coal mine consenting process

A proposed new coal mine at Mokau, South Waikato, shows why the Resource Management Act (RMA) should allow local authorities such as regional councils to take the causes of climate change into account, the Green Party said today.

Mokau South Resources has applied to the Waikato Regional Council to dam, pollute, and discharge water in relation to a new coal mine it hopes to open under a mining permit it’s held since 1990. Since 2004, the RMA has prevented councils from considering climate change mitigation as part of resource consent applications.

“Coal causes climate change, so local authorities should be able to take that into account when they’re looking at consent applications under the RMA,” Green Party environment spokesperson Eugenie Sage said.

“National is failing to show leadership on climate change at the central government level, but local governments can’t step up because the RMA doesn’t allow them to consider how activities contribute to climate change or set mitigation conditions.

“The proposed strip mine is a bad idea not just because of the local environmental impacts on native forest and the Mokau River, but also because of the contribution coal makes to climate change.

“The science is clear that to prevent runaway climate change we can’t burn 80 percent of the fossil fuels that have already been discovered, so there’s no point opening new coal mines.

“Coal mines around New Zealand and the world are shutting up shop because the economics don’t stack up. Opening a new coal mine ignores the science and the economics of energy in the twenty first century.

“We need to stop opening new coal mines and turn our attention to clean industries and creating new jobs for communities that have traditionally relied on mining,” said Ms Sage.

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