Twinkle, twinkle little Star Coal Project

It might be small, but the Star Coal Project is set to become Australia’s newest coal mine!

On 23 June, Star’s proposal to dig up a “bulk sample” of coal was tacitly approved by the Department of Climate Change, Energy, Environment and Water. More specifically, the Department decided that Star’s initial proposal does not constitute a ‘controlled action’ under federal environment law. This means the proposal to dig up 1.5 million tonnes of coal can go ahead.

While no statement of reasons has been published yet, it seems that the Department agreed with the mining company’s claim that there was “no potential for significant impact” to matters of national environmental significance under federal law.

Climate change and greenhouse gas emissions are not considered matters of national environmental significance, although a Federal Court case in September by Environment Council of Central Queensland is looking to change that. There have long been calls for a ‘climate trigger’ to be added to the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.

But for now, unless coal mines have a direct impact on endangered species or water resources, Minister Plibersek and her Department seem happy to approve them.