A RECOMMENDATION by Western Australia’s environmental watchdog that new emissions-intensive projects should be carbon neutral has been swiftly rejected by the state government.
The Environmental Protection Authority released updated guidelines on mitigating emissions from new or expanding projects, suggesting the WA government require proposals with emissions higher than 100,000 tonnes a year be fully offset.
Premier Mark McGowan said on Friday the state government did not support the proposal “in its current form” because it penalised LNG, which was cleaner than coal, and also disadvantaged new projects.
“They put out a policy – that’s their job – but the state government isn’t bound by that policy,” Mr McGowan told reporters.
EPA chair Tom Hatton admitted on 6PR radio that the recommendation “does colour the business case” but taking that into account was not the agency’s remit.
Mr Hatton said the EPA needed to step in because the federal government had failed to do the “heavy lifting” with climate policy, a comment seized on by Mr McGowan.
“He’s sending a message to the federal government,” the premier said.
“WA needs to do its bit but we need a national approach to this so each state isn’t doing things that are contrary to the state’s interest or conflict with what other states are doing.”
Prime Minister Scott Morrison labelled Mr Hatton’s comment “rubbish”.
“We will meet our carbon abatement targets for 2030 as we’ve set out in our plan and the commitments we’ve made,” Mr Morrison told reporters.
He said the recommendation, which immediately drew damning responses from the business community, was “actually what Bill Shorten wants to do across the entire country”.
“Mark McGowan may well see sense on this issue but I can assure you that Bill Shorten won’t,” Mr Morrison said.
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