Friday, September 30, 2016

Great Barrier Reef in Danger? Govt Okays Queensland Coal Mine

Great Barrier Reef in Danger? Govt Okays Queensland Coal Mine

US Bureau of Land Management

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Australia’s federal court ruled in favor of the giant coal mine in central Queensland despite conservationist groups saying that it could harm the Great Barrier Reef. The court rejected the claims by Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) that Greg Hunt‘s approval of the Carmichael mine in 2014 violated agreements to protect the reef.

“It is extraordinary that in 2016, a federal environment minister can argue in court that a mega-polluting coal mine will have no impact on the climate and the Great Barrier Reef,” says ACF’s CEO Kelly O’Shanassy. “We’ll do everything we can to stop this mine.”

The coal from the mine will be exported to power stations in India. This mine would be the biggest one in the country, and the coal collected could produce up to 128 million tonnes of CO2 annually.

According to the ACF, this upsurge of carbon in the atmosphere will destroy the Great Barrier Reef through climate change. Ocean temperatures will increase, which will eventually cause mass coral bleaching.

However, the court says that there is no proof that the coal produced from the Carmichael mine will increase the emission of greenhouse gases. The court says that other factors can affect how much coal is burned annually.

In a recent study, the Australian Research Council of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies and the Australian Institute of Marine Science researchers claimed that coal shipping threatens the Great Barrier Reef. According to the researchers, seawater gets contaminated, impeding the growth of fish and seagrass as well as killing the corals.

“Risks to the Great Barrier Reef posed by large coal spills depend on the probability of an accident and the potential impacts to marine life,” adds Andrew Negri, author of the study now published in the journal Nature Scientific Reports. “While the likelihood of a major spill on a coral reef or seagrass meadow is low, we are now beginning to understand the likely consequences.”