Queensland shocks environment minister again

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Yet another expansion of Queensland's electricity supply by coal has put the state government at odds with federal environment minister Robert Hill. He says he is "astounded" by the announcement of a A$1 billion expansion of the coal fired Tarong Power Station. Hill says the federal government could intervene in any future power decisions if Queensland does not pull its weight in helping Australia meet its greenhouse gas reductions by cleaning up its power supply. Responding to Hill's criticism, Queensland Labor prime minister Peter Beattie accuses the federal government for "moving too slowly" on greenhouse issues and failing to have a clear policy on emission reductions. Hill "strongly denies" this accusation saying that "ultimately Australia will have to bear the costs of additional greenhouse abatement programs because of this decision." Moreover, Queensland's action will "make it more difficult for Australia to meet its Kyoto target." Under the Kyoto agreement, Australia is actually allowed to increase its emissions by 8% above the 1990 levels. The Tarong expansion will include 700 MW of gas fired and 450 MW coal fired capacity. Beattie says his government's strategy is "to secure more reliable, more competitive and cleaner energy to fire Queensland's industrial development." The expansion is the first stage in a yet to be finalised "range of strategies to encourage alternative technologies and fuel supplies while recognising the important on-going role of coal as a major source for Queensland." Hill says Beattie's criticism of Australia's greenhouse record is "even more astounding" in light of a recent report by the Queensland Conservation Council that land clearing is accelerating in the state. Some 20% of Australia's emissions are from land clearing. Hill also refers to the recent approval in Queensland of two new coal fired power stations under construction at Millmerran & Callide, and a third coal plant at Kogan Creek awaiting approval.

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