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Garrett's Choice: Mega Coal or Shoalwater Bay

The Australian Greens have called on Environment Minister Peter Garrett to use his existing powers to protect Queensland beautiful Shoalwater Bay from the environmentally destructive Waratah Coal mine, pipeline, rail and port facility.

Greens Senator Christine Milne said the $5.3b. Waratah Coal project was projected to produce 50 million tonnes of coal per annum from an area 20 kms from Byfield town, linking by rail to a proposed port wholly located within a RAMSAR-listed wetland in Shoalwater Bay.

"The Queensland Government has agreed to the project however the one person with the power to stand up for the environment is Minister Garrett - who is on record in 1992 as saying Shoalwater Bay is ‘one of the last opportunities that we have in Australia and probably on the planet, to actually hold onto an entire coastal ecosystem." (Peter Garrett, Documentary - Shoalwater - Up for Grabs)

"The question for Minister Garrett now is: he has the power - does he still have the passion?"

Senator Milne said the Waratah Coal project would lock in for the next 50-100 years, the extraction of a huge quantity of coal that would ultimately end up in the atmosphere contributing to dangerous climate change. There is no carbon capture or storage option before 2020.

The mine will be linked with the port via a rail line. The port itself is located wholly within RAMSAR wetlands - and the company admits that disturbance will occur to many endangered terrestrial and marine species including the dugong, the loggerhead turtle and of course the Great Barrier Reef both directly, and indirectly, through climate change.

Senator Milne said that under the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, Minister Garrett could deem the project to be ‘clearly unacceptable' as it is likely to have a ‘significant impact' on six of the seven matters of national environmental significance including nationally listed threatened species, migratory species, RAMSAR wetlands, the Commonwealth marine environment, World Heritage Properties, or National heritage places.

"Minister Garrett cannot duck this one: he has the power to halt the assessment approval process now."

"Clearly this gargantuan project, which locks in a massive carbon pollution contribution for the world, is also against the Federal Government's climate change intentions - and Minister Garrett has the power and must act."

For more information phone Russell Kelly 0438376082

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