Fossil Fuel Watch weekly digest: July 18 – 24

350 Australia is tracking the fossil fuel lobby and its attempts to use the Covid-19 health crisis to its advantage. There are now 70 instances of the fossil fuel lobby and pro-fossil fuel politicians calling for policy changes to benefit their interests. Below is a weekly update on developments in the area. 

Updates for 18 – 24 July:

  • As Australia grapples with the economic fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic, Federal Ministers and fossil fuel lobby groups have made a concerted effort this week to link the economic recovery to the resources industry. As part of the economic and fiscal update, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg referred to the resources sector as a “bright spot” in the economy, and the Queensland Resources Council was quick to promote the role of coal. 
  • This is a message that has been reinforced by Resources Minister Keith Pitt this week, who has taken the opportunity to call for gas investment in northern Australia – despite a new report showing that gas is one of the least labour-intensive industries in the country.
  • The NSW Minerals Council also entered the fray, calling for fast tracking of 32 mining proposals under the cover of the Covid-19 economic recovery, including 21 coal projects.
  • The National Cabinet has agreed to hand environmental approvals for mining and other major projects to the states despite concerns this would have disastrous consequences for the environment. This comes after Environment Minister Sussan Ley indicated that the Government will cave to the fossil fuel industry’s demands to water down the EPBC, with language that mirrored that of the Minerals Council and APPEA, who both welcomed the announcement. The Independent Interim Review of the EPBC finding that the environment and biodiversity is in a critical state of decline.
  • It has been revealed that Angus Taylor’s picks for the new ARENA board include one of his recent advisors, and a founder of one of the most prominent anti-renewable energy consultancies. It has also been reported that the new chair of ARENA, Justin Punch, may be a skiing buddy of Angus Taylor’s.
  • The Independent Planning Commission hearings into the proposed Narrabri gas project continued, with the IPC hearing significant local and civil society opposition to the project. Despite this community opposition, the AFR ran a series of articles in support of the project, including an editorial and an opinion piece by the CEO of Santos, Kevin Gallagher.