November 29, 2011


 Approaching Cullen Bullen - recent photo

The little town of Cullen Bullen is surrounded by coal mines, including the hubristically named Invincible Colliery, all of which are leaving a trail of environmental destruction as they blow up mountains and destroy water systems in their quest to excavate the last remains of ancient swamps.
The coal in this area is a result of eons of photosynthesis by giant plants which stored vast amounts of carbon dioxide in their cellular structure and later in the earth under pressure. This is coal - a mineral dated at around 300 billion years old. Reversing the process of photosynthesis by digging up the coal and burning it releases the carbon dioxide back into the atmosphere. The problem is that this is being done in a matter of generations as opposed to the millennia it took to create. When the carbon was laid down there were no humans on the planet. Today we are over 6 billion of us pumping out 90 million tonnes of CO2 each day! And about half of that is from coal fired energy generation.
Species such as humans, which took over 100,000 years to evolve, cannot adapt to the radical changes we are making to our home planet. Coal kills. So why do we insist on persisting with this outmoded industry?
There are many of us fighting to turn the tide. including the Blue Mountains Conservation Society which has launched a campaign for at least one of the proposed coal projects around Cullen Bullen to be stopped in its tracks. Click below to read about it in the Lithgow Mercury:

November 24, 2011

Outrage over coal seam gas well approval in drinking water catchment

The Greens NSW spokesperson on mining Jeremy Buckingham has condemned the approval of a coal seam gas well within the Special Catchment Area on the Illawarra Plateau, saying it highlights the need for a moratorium on the industry.
The Planning Assessment Commission approved the drilling by Apex Energy under the old Part 3A arrangements despite concerns by the Special Catchment Authority that a future production field could see 150 coal seam gas wells in the area.
"The coal seam gas industry continues to roll out under the O'Farrell Government, highlighting the need for a moratorium on the industry," said Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham.
"This brings us a step closer to 150 coal seam gas wells draining aquifers and gas in the Special Catchment Areas that supply drinking water to 4.3 million people in the Greater Sydney Metropolitan Area.
"The government has a chance to correct this decision by voting for the Greens' Coal Seam Gas Moratorium Bill later this week.  
The Bill would put a 12 month moratorium on the industry and prohibit mining in the Sydney Metropolitan Area and Special Catchment."
The Planning Assessment Commission cites the government's pro-mining submission to the current Parliamentary Inquiry into CSG as a reason to continue to approve coal seam gas projects:
"The Commission carefully considered the NSW Government Submission to this Inquiry as indicating the present and possible future position of the Government on this matter.  The Commission is not aware at this stage of development of policy and regulation of [soc] any regulatory or policy constraints which would preclude exploration or extraction of coal seam gas in this area"
Jeremy Buckingham said: "Responsibility for coal seam gas drilling in this sensitive area now lies clearly at the feet of Premier O'Farrell and Minister Hartcher."
Contact: Max Phillips - 9230 2202  
or  0419 444 916

November 22, 2011

Mt Penny Coal Project Community Information Session

As coal companies proceed to march into the spectacular Byong Valley, their spin doctors will try to persuade the community that this is healthy progress. In fact, it means the destruction of the environment, good farming land and water resources. The coal exported from this pristine valley will be burned, adding to unprecedented CO2 levels in the atmosphere. 

Mt Penny Coal Pty/Ltd  is holding a  Community and Employment Information Session where they will tell you to dismiss your concerns about the planet and future generations and concentrate on the financial opportunity this presents to the current generation. 

So head along and ask some tough questions like what compensation will farmers get for loss of water.

When? Wednesday 23rd November, 2011 
Where? Kandos Returned Services Community Club 
20 Dangar Street 
What Time? Drop in any time between 4.30pm and 8.00pm 
For more information contact:
 James McGuigan 
Project Coordinator 
1300 558 628

November 11, 2011

Mining boom no longer boosting growth: study

The benefits of the mining boom have peaked and the federal government must abandon its commitment to a budget surplus by 2012/13, a new study says.

The Australian Economic Report, by Victoria University economists Peter Sheehan and Bob Gregory, says the boom will continue and mining investment will increase but their net benefits for the Australian economy have peaked.

''The boom is no longer boosting growth in the Australian economy nor contributing to additional improved welfare for Australian citizens,'' Professor Sheehan says.

''The positive effects of the boom have become more muted, while the negative effects are becoming more pronounced.''

The study says many new mining projects have limited local content and are foreign owned, giving little direct benefit to the Australian economy.

The shift towards offshore liquefied natural gas (LNG) mining, which relies heavily on foreign-supplied equipment, and the high value of the Australian dollar are compounding the problem.

The economists say the high exchange rate has left local industries such as manufacturing, tourism and education vulnerable, threatening jobs and slowing the economy.

They urge the government not to depress the economy further by slashing spending in a bid to bring the budget back into surplus as planned.

''With the mining boom boosting the economy further each year, it made sense for the government to take $50 billion - equivalent to about one year's growth in GDP (gross domestic product) - out of the economy over two years to achieve a budget surplus in 2012/13,'' they said.

''But without the ongoing boost from mining and with the economy slowing this is no longer appropriate.''

They also said further reductions in interest rates by the Reserve Bank of Australia may be necessary to boost spending and stimulate the economy.
Source: SMH November 10, 2011

November 8, 2011

Save the Barrier Reef - News from Getup

Breaking: tune in to ABC's Four Corners at 8:30pm tonight - and sign the emergency petition to stop the destruction of the Great Barrier Reef now.

Dear bruce,

If you tune in to Four Corner's tonight you'll see a truly shocking story about the destruction of huge swathes of our Great Barrier Reef. Not to spoil the plot, but... Millions of cubic metres of sea floor are being dredged up from the Great Barrier Reef to make way for massive new coal seem gas export facilities. No, we're not kidding.

It's the largest dredging project ever undertaken in Australia, and one that has the United Nations' Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) so alarmed they're warning the Reef could lose its iconic world heritage status. We've created an emergency petition to stop this. Sign here, tune in and spread the word now.

Go to this web site to read more and sign the petition
Source: CVA Blog 

November 7, 2011

Protecting Australia's Water Resources Amendment

On 1 November 2011, Qld Greens Senator Larissa Waters introduced the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Amendment (Protecting Australia's Water Resources) Bill 2011 to the Federal Parliament. This amendment would give Federal government the final say as to whether a mining operation can take place and would take away some of the power from the states to do this. To date the states have been failing spectacularly to protect water resources, precious and scarce agricultural land, the natural environment, and the people who live in these mine-affected areas from rampant and destructive mining activities.

It would help to get the amendment passed if people wrote to politicians to support it. Following is a list of politicians to write to, and below that are some points you could make in your letter.

 The Bill and explanatory memorandum can be found here -;adv=yes;orderBy=priority,title;page=1;query=Dataset_Phrase%3A%22billhome%22%20ParliamentNumber%3A%2243%22%20ChamberSource_Phrase%3A%22senate%22;rec=14;resCount=Default

The second reading speech can be found on p.45 of yesterday’s Senate Hansard -

Some points to make

1 Water is the most valuable resource our country has, and yet our scarce surface and ancient groundwater systems are under threat from significant and potentially irreversible impacts from the rash of mining operations expanding across all our states and territories. Inappropriate mining operations risk our environment, our food security, the viability of diverse agricultural activities, and the sustainability of the groundwater systems themselves – nationally important resources that do not respect state borders.
2 The federal government should have a regulatory role in managing the water impacts of coal and coal seam gas mining, and the flow-on effects those water impacts could have on the environment, food security and rural communities.
3 The Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Amendment (Protecting Australia’s Water Resources) Bill 2011 will help to protect Australian water resources from mining by requiring federal assessment and approval for mining operations likely to have a significant impact on Australia’s water resources. This is an important safeguard as do date the state governments have failed to protect these precious resources.
4 This Bill complements the Landholders' Right to Refuse (Coal Seam Gas) Bill 2011 introduced by Senator Larissa Waters on 24 August 2011, which is designed to provide Australian landholders with the right to refuse coal seam gas mining activities on food producing land without prior written authorisation. This is an additional step which would help protect the 4% of Australia’s good quality agricultural land from inconsistent land uses and stop the mining industry continuing to ride rough-shod over Australian farmers.

Australian Government ministers

The Hon. Julia Gillard MP
(Labor, Prime Minister)
PO Box 6022
House of Representatives
Parliament House
Canberra ACT 2600

Mr Joel Fitzgibbon MP (Labor, Federal member for Hunter, which covers parts of Rylstone and Bylong)
PO Box 526
Cessnock NSW 2325

Mr Mark Coulton MP (Nationals, Federal member for Parkes, which covers Ilford and parts of Rylstone and Bylong)
Shop 3, 153 Brisbane Street
Dubbo NSW 2830

Mr John Cobb MP (Nationals, Federal member for Calare, which covers Bogee, Capertee, Glen Alice, Glen Davis, Sofala, Bathurst)
PO Box 673
Orange NSW 2800

The Hon. Simon Crean MP
(Labor, Minister for Regional Australia, Regional Development and Local Government)
PO Box 6022
House of Representatives
Parliament House
Canberra ACT 2600

The Hon. Tony Burke MP
(Labor, Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities)
PO Box 6022
House of Representatives
Parliament House
Canberra ACT 2600

The Hon. Martin Ferguson MP
(Labor, Minister for Resources and Energy)
PO Box 6022
House of Representatives
Parliament House
Canberra ACT 2600

The Hon. Greg Combet AM, MP (Labor, Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency)
PO Box 6022
House of Representatives
Parliament House
Canberra ACT 2600
Email via contact form at

Lithgow landscape - effects of coal mining and the proposed third coal-fired power station

 Have a look at this blog post from Sharyn Munro, commenting on the effects of coal mining and the proposed third coal-fired power station.

 "As the valley fills with dust and noise, the cliffs split and fall away and the filtering hanging swamps drain dry through the cracks from undermining, we must remind ourselves that all these operations are under ‘strict environmental guidelines’."... Read the rest of the post here.

Posted for Fiona

'Open Letter' from the Lithgow Environmental Group

'Open Letter' from the Lithgow Environmental Group to Centennial's recent response in the Lithgow Mercury.

Claims are incorrect - Centennial:

Open Letter
Centennial’s Environmental Credentials

The response by Centennial’s Katie Brassil (LM 27 Oct) to being fined $1.45million by the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities for damaging the environment, namely the swamps of the Newnes Plateau, is very disappointing.

Ms Brassil tries to make us believe that Centennial’s acceptance of the fine was to save the tax payer money (otherwise spent on a court case) and that “the changes to the swamps are related to the climatic conditions of the area. Well, to prove that point would certainly cost a lot of money.

Ms. Brassil’s statement that “we are committed to minimizing the environmental footprint in the area” has just this week been proven wrong with another case of ‘environmental vandalism’ when Centennial’s Springvale colliery was ‘crowned’ the second biggest mercury polluting operator in NSW (SMH. 22 Oct 2011).

To us it seems obvious that the mining activities under the Newnes Plateau change the hydrology of the area and with that the environment above. Swamps, plants and wildlife are irreversibly affected and the people of Lithgow will suffer from the changes in Lithgow’s water catchment area of Farmers Creek.

Thomas Ebersoll

Lithgow Environment Group

Posted for Fiona

November 2, 2011

1 November, 2011

Dear Supporters,
Action is heating up across NSW regarding the contentious issues of
Coal and Coal Seam Gas mining. Politicians are being placed on notice
that communities will not tolerate uncontrolled expansion of these
industries with the impacts on our water resources, agricultural land,
the environment and landowners across Australia.
The pressure is on the NSW Coalition government to deliver on their
pre-election promises to introduce a Strategic Regional Land Use
Planning process, Aquifer Interference Legislation, Agricultural Impact
Statements and new Planning rules. Progress has been slow and the
jury is still out regarding the outcomes…but we can’t let the government
off the hook. In the meantime we have our own battles to fight on the

Watch Stateline at 7:30 on the ABC this Friday, 4 November
Producer Sharon O’Neill and the 7:30 team visited the Southern Highlands
this week and put together a story on our fight and the impact of Coal and Gas
mining activities on communities around NSW. This will be shown on Stateline
on Friday of this week.

To be held in Corbett Gardens, Bowral on Saturday 19 November
between 11am and 2pm. This is the biggest event of the year for SHCAG!
We’ve brought together a group of dedicated people who are leading the
charge in Australia in the fight against unconstrained and destructive Coal and
Gas mining.
The team will be led by MC Alan Jones and include Senator Bill
Heffernan, Drew Hutton from Lock the Gate, Tim Duddy from Caroona

plus distinguished speakers from the Southern Highlands and other affected
communities in Australia. Find out what’s in store for the Highlands if we let it

Hume Coal buys iconic properties in Sutton Forest
It has finally happened. Under the new front company “Aurelius Rural” set-up
by legal firm Blake Dawson Waldron on September 7 this year, our “open and
transparent“ miners led by Korean steelmaker POSCO have purchased two
properties in the heart of the coal lease. The properties are Wongonbra and
Carlisle Downs. It took quite a few phone calls and agitation before they finally
admitted that they were indeed behind the purchase.

Community Coal Reference Panel
SHCAG is an integral part of this panel set up by the Wingecarribee Shire
Council to review all activities associated with Coal and Gas mining in
Wingecarribee Shire. Deputy Mayor Larry Whipper chairs the group. Our
representatives include Alan Lindsay, Lynne Morrison (from Medway) and

Hume Coal approaching Landowners for Land Access in Sutton Forest
Hume Coal is continuing to write to selected landowners in the Sutton Forest
lease AUTH 469 seeking access to undertake exploratory drilling for coal.


Join NSW Farmers Association
The NSW Farmers Association led by new President Fiona Simson has been
a leader in the fight for fair and balanced laws relating to mining in NSW. They
need us to support them in their activities. Please consider joining. Call 1300
794 000
The Southern Highlands Preservation Fund
Thanks to all of you who have contributed to The Southern Highlands
Preservation Fund.
If you have yet to do so, please give generously to
protect the Southern Highlands. Make cheques payable to:
Southern Highlands Preservation Fund, PO Box 3380 Exeter 2579.
Or electronically to: Westpac Bank, Bowral Branch
BSB: 032716 Account Number: 298603

Thanks to all the VOLUNTEERS who are now helping at the markets and with
other activities. Please put up your hand up if you can. Virginia Brousse and
Kim Martin are coordinating volunteer activities. Virginia is away until early
November. In the meantime, contact Kim on 0412 443 142 if you wish to help.
Kind Regards
Peter Martin
Convener, Southern Highlands Coal Action Group.
Mobile: 0418 800 111