MPs want energy debate that won't pit coal communities against climate activists

17th July 2019

Source: Newcastle Herald | By: Joanne McCarthy | Posted: June 17, 2019

A NSW parliamentary inquiry is seeking an ideology-free debate on the state's future energy needs and resources to avoid "pitting coal communities against climate change activists" while exploring renewable energy opportunities.

The Hunter will be a focus of the inquiry that follows an appeal in February to Premier Gladys Berejiklian for a 10-year coal communities transition plan.

"We write to request that you protect coal communities from serious economic disruption as a result of an expected decline in the coal export market," wrote Lake Macquarie MP Greg Piper, Sydney MP Alex Greenwich and Wagga Wagga MP Joe McGirr.

Parliament's environment and planning committee, chaired by Mr Greenwich, announced an inquiry into sustainability of energy supply and resources on Tuesday, with submissions open until September 15.

The inquiry will consider energy supply and resource sustainability, market forecasts, renewable energy opportunities, emerging trends in energy exports including investment, the effects of changing global energy demands because of climate change and regional areas likely to be affected by thosechanges.

Mr Greenwich said the inquiry would "allow us to plot a responsible road map for renewables in NSW" while seeking to avoid "pitting coal communities against climate change activists".

The inquiry is expected to consider Hunter issues including emerging renewable energy projects, the pending Liddell coal-fired power station closure and the impacts of coal-fired power on water, the environment and public health.

Mr Greenwich, Mr Piper and Dr McGirr said a recent report to the NSW Government acknowledged the need for the state to transition away from coal fired power.

A global trend away from coal meant "major implications for our coal exports and the communities that rely on them",they said.

"A transition away from coal is what the planet urgently needs but it requires planning to avoid social and economic impacts in mining regions."


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