Environment Protection Australia’s head is on a swing.
The country is facing a major overhaul of its anti-pollution policies that could see millions of hectares of forest removed.
Its biggest problem, however, is the problem of the ‘fairy dust’ that is being emitted from coal-fired power stations.
The problem is so serious that Environment Protection Minister Tom Koutsantonis says the changes are being undertaken in the name of the environment.
“It’s just a matter of time before we have a coal-burning plant that is emitting as much pollution as a large-scale nuclear plant,” Mr Koutsampantis told ABC Radio Melbourne.
He said he believes the changes would “go a long way towards stopping the pollution of our environment”.
“I believe that we are moving towards an environment that is cleaner and healthier, where we can be confident that the environmental impact is being done in a responsible way,” he said.
The federal Government is expected to finalise its changes to the country’s anti-fossil-fuel policies on Tuesday.
A new government will take office on July 1, with a new chief minister in the role until then.
Under the new climate change plan, which was released on Thursday, the Government will introduce new regulations and enforce the existing laws, with the aim of limiting global warming to no more than 2C above pre-industrial levels.
Environment Protection Agency chief executive Scott Jones said the changes were aimed at reducing emissions.
He told ABC TV’s 7.30 the Government’s focus was on preventing the “fairy-dust” that would be emitted from fossil fuels, such as coal.
“I don’t think you can do any more damage to our environment than to the carbon dioxide that we put in the atmosphere,” Mr Jones said.
Mr Jones added that the Government was “working very hard” to protect the environment and the public.
“The environment is a fundamental part of our economy and we want to make sure that we make sure it is managed in a way that it will benefit us and we don’t make that mistake that we see happening in Australia,” he added.
The Government said it would not introduce any measures to prevent the “Fairy Dust” from being emitted.
It said it was working to ensure coal-based power plants had “robust” environmental controls, and “work towards reducing emissions”.
Mr Jones told 7.60 the new legislation would “put us in the driver’s seat”.
“We are trying to reduce the amount of pollution coming into our atmosphere,” he explained.
“We want to minimise the number of emissions that are coming in.”
He said it did not mean the Government would not reduce emissions.
“When we are able to have emissions reductions, that’s when we can achieve our goals,” he argued.
“What we’re saying is we’re going to try to minimised the emissions coming in and minimise what we’ve already got.”
The Government will also be working to increase the number and size of wind farms and solar farms to reduce emissions from the sector.
Mr Koutantonis told 7 to 10pm on Wednesday that the emissions of CO2 from coal power stations would be reduced to zero by 2020.
He described the Government plan as “significant” and “a very good start”.
He said the Government had “put a lot of effort” into reducing emissions and the Government wanted to “build on that”.
“It will help the economy to be stronger and we are going to continue to build on that,” he told 730.
Environment Minister Tom Dickson said the government was working hard to reduce CO2 emissions.
Photo: Justin McManus “The aim is to make coal-powered power stations clean and safe.
That’s what we’re trying to achieve,” Mr Dickson told 790 ABC Melbourne’s Today program.
“You can expect that we will achieve that within a reasonable period of time.”
The Environment Protection Authority will be responsible for monitoring and regulating coal-power stations.
Environment Agency chief operating officer Andrew Fenton said the agency had been working with the industry and stakeholders to ensure “there’s no risk to the environment”.
He noted the government had established a coal plant-wide review and the agency would also undertake a comprehensive assessment of the coal industry’s “capacity and risk”.
Mr Fenton also said the “greenest and most environmentally sound” coal plants would be “reduced in size and efficiency” to achieve the “cleanest emissions possible”.
The Australian Energy Market Operator said the Federal Government had taken a “fairly conservative” approach to emissions, and had provided a range of measures that had reduced emissions.
The ANEO has also issued “guidance” to ensure emissions reductions are not “misleading” the public, and to “ensure the environmental performance of coal-generating facilities is appropriate”.
The Environment Agency has also been asked to review coal-mining operations to make