Wednesday, February 1, 2012

We're gonna stop HRL, fellas, so pull the $100m now

A great line-up of speakers and more than 400 nearly 500 people turned up at Victorian Parliament at lunchtime today (Wed. 1 Feb.) to call for an end to the HRL brown coal power station in the Latrobe Valley. (Why?)

Protesters obviously found it not only acceptable, but highly worthwhile to highlight that the project does not stack up economically and would be a disastrous misstep for action towards a safer climate.

The rally was organised by Greenpeace, Environment Victoria, and the wonderful Quit Coal campaign of Friends of the Earth.

Federal Labor Member for Wills, Kelvin Thomson MP, focused on the inconsistency of the project with Victoria's legislated 20% emissions reduction target by 2020 (not to mention federal targets).

He also noted the $100 million federal grant made by the Howard Government could be much better spent (I suggest redirection to renewables), as could the $50 million of State funding in Victoria - for example, by contributing to undergrounding powerlines in high-risk bushfire areas, a measure recommended by the Bushfires Royal Commission.

Kelvin also noted the lack of any private funding for the project, and a recent UN report calling for the phasing out of fossil fuel subsidies by 2020 (see also this post on subsidies). For the full details of Kelvin's speech, visit his blog.

New Federal Green for Melbourne, Adam Bandt MP, also did a great job arguing for renewables over emissions-intensive (i.e. dirty) fossil fuels.

It was good to see some cross-party cooperation on this important issue, especially when it still seems to internally divide the Labor Party - it's a pity, for example, that Martin Ferguson can't seem to change tack from his current fossil-fuel-lobby cooperation.

There were three other speakers, and more about them will hopefully be written or posted as video on the web pages of the organisers.

(A wrap-up is now available from Quit Coal, including Ten News footage, and details of the tabling of a 13,000 signature petition against the HRL project in Canberra are available from Environment Victoria)

I was holding up the main banner with lots of other people, so I'm sorry I could only manage a hasty 40 seconds or so towards the end as Julien Vincent from Greenpeace vowed to continue the campaign even if efforts to end the $100 million federal grant were unsuccessful in the short term - which we are all hoping like hell they won't be.

The 40 seconds shows two things. First, the great crowd reaction, and, second, the difficulty of filming on a "smart" phone with big hands while holding a banner doing its best to demonstrate the abundance of wind energy in Victoria. Green Screen entry it is not.

Where to now?

Finally, there's going to be an action to maintain the pressure to end the HRL project next Thursday 9 February from 12.00-2.00pm in which we're all encouraged to ring, email, tweet and/or connect via all available or about-to-be-launched social media with prime minister Gillard, Finance Minister Penny Wong, and our respective local members (oh dear, that's Martin Ferguson in my case). I'll be in that (that is, it's in my diary as instructed, dear protest groups).

See also Rally says no to HRL coal power station in Victoria (from @takvera)

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