Fergie – Duchess of coal?

I’m not referring to the lovely Black Eyed Peas Fergie, but the somewhat less attractive (well, in my opinion anyway) Martin Ferguson, Australia’s Minister for Resources and Energy.

—Rant begins—

I don’t know what Mr. Ferguson’s problem is, but every time he opens his mouth to speak about renewable energy these days, something negative seems to fall out about it; particularly regarding solar, and meanwhile he extols the virtues of clean coal, fossil fuels and nuclear energy.

Back in February he said that solar feed-in tariffs would inflate power costs “300 or 400 per cent higher than other renewables”. Now he’s saying that environmentalists who oppose everything except renewable energy are condemning billions to poverty. It’s almost as though it’s a conscious, slow and subtle attempt to undermine renewable energy in this country.

Mr. Ferguson completely misunderstood the concept of a solar feed in tariff and did the Australian solar industry a great disservice with that scare tactic in my opinion.

He mentioned LNG as a “stimulus package” in his recent article on The Australian, yet failed to recognise a solar feed in tariff is also a stimulus package – and without the public debt.

The fossil fuel lobby has way too much power in this country and too much influence over politicians – as in most countries. For example, they (mining industry and many politicians) are not seeing “low emissions coal”, still unproven on a commercial scale, as being a phaseout strategy – more as a business as usual ploy.

The really ironic thing about “clean coal” is that it takes a stack more energy to scrub the emissions from coal fired power generation.. meaning more coal needs to be mined to provide that energy. Far from being a burden to the coal industry, clean coal a huge bonus and will be a gravy train – if it’s ever made commercially viable. They are getting 2.4 billion bucks of taxpayer money to help fund its development to boot!

If the fossil fuel industries would start to communicate that whatever they plan to do to clean up is just an interim measure leading up to their own extinction, maybe those opposed would change their view and not be so disagreeable.

These folks are just trying “keep the bastards honest” after decades of misinformation, rape and pillage of our environment by Big Oil and Big Coal.

As for nuclear, there’s increasing evidence it’s not as cheap as we’ve been led to believe and when you add the problems associated with water consumption, effects on aquatic environments, uranium mining impacts and nuclear waste; it’s not that clean either.

It’s of great concern to me that someone in such a powerful ministerial role at this point in Australia’s history seems to have a real taste for fossil fuels and nuclear energy; to the point that it sometimes contradicts the party line.

Contrary to what Mr. Ferguson says, it’s my personal belief that the issue of renewable energy being phased in faster is not one of technology, but of political will and investment; investment that could be gained by taking it away from fossil fuel industries. Yes, even after all these years, fossil fuel is still heavily subsidised – we pay for it in our taxes. That 2.4 billion for clean coal is a classic example. It’s not like the coal industry is scratching for a dollar.

Our love affair with fossil fuels is based purely on profits and the environment be damned – we are one of the world’s largest exporters of coal and uranium. It’s in our interests (or so we seem to think) to see those industries not only survive, but grow.

Future generations will judge us harshly for our greed. Actually, there’s no need to wait that long – just ask the East Timorese about the Greater Sunrise gas fields and how Australia’s handled that situation and see what comes back.

After Mr. Ferguson’s recent article in The Australian, Greens leader Bob Brown labeled him “a total, 100 per cent, lackey of the mining industry”.

Hey, he said it, not me.

Well Fergie..

“Watcha gonna do with all that coal
All the coal down in that hole?

My lumps, my lumps, my lumps
My lovely coal black lumps.”

Immature? Yes. Infantile? Oh for sure, but I just couldn’t resist it. Apologies to the other Fergie.

— Rant ends —