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Pacific News Minute: Australia Approves Huge Carmichael Coal Mine

bycfotografem / Pixabay Commons
bycfotografem / Pixabay Commons

Australia's government has approved what will be one of the biggest coal mines in the world.  An Indian conglomerate plans to dig up and export about 60-million tons of coal per year - a plan that Australian environmentalists denounced as grossly irresponsible.  Details from Neal Conan in the Pacific News Minute.

The gigantic mine will be in Australia's Galilee Basin -170 miles inland from the country's east coast, about halfway between Cairns and Brisbane.  A new rail line will carry the coal to a port at Abbot Point, where most of it will be shipped to India. The 5.2-billion dollar project will be constructed and operated by Adani Enterprises, owned by Gautam Adani - one of the richest men in India and a close ally of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

First proposed in 2010, the mine was blocked by Australian courts until environmental concerns could be addressed.  Environment Minister Greg Hunt said that Adani would be subject to 36 strict conditions. 

Resources and Energy Minister Josh Freydenberg argued that there was a strong moral case to build the mine - as the electricity from coal fired power plants would displace smoky wood and dung stoves responsible for the deaths of millions in India every year.  Senator Larissa Waters - deputy leader of the Greens party, described that argument as deranged - pointing out that the vast majority of those without electricity in India are not connected to the grid - so cannot use coal fired power.

Colin Butler, professor of Public Health at the University of Canberra told the Guardian that Minister Freyberg also seemed ignorant or indifferent to the effect of all that coal burning on climate change which disproportionately affects the poor. 

Over 36 years with National Public Radio, Neal Conan worked as a correspondent based in New York, Washington, and London; covered wars in the Middle East and Northern Ireland; Olympic Games in Lake Placid and Sarajevo; and a presidential impeachment. He served, at various times, as editor, producer, and executive producer of All Things Considered and may be best known as the long-time host of Talk of the Nation. Now a macadamia nut farmer on Hawaiʻi Island, his "Pacific News Minute" can be heard on HPR Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays.
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