Well, the Government really got into the spirit of Earth Day yesterday, a day to “inspire awareness and appreciation for the Earth’s environment”. However, it’s focus was a bit below the layer of earth that sustains life, and was all about celebrating coal.
First, the Minister of Conservation announced he’d redrawn the boundaries of Otago’s Oteake Conservation Park to exclude an area that had the misfortune of being above a lignite deposit. Lignite is a low-grade coal that New Zealand has a lot of – in fact 80% of NZ’s ‘recoverable’ coal deposits are lignite. Greenpeace slammed the decision, and Labour weakly whined. However, the Greens refused to let this disappointing decision shake our Earth Day celebration. However, soon after…
…the Government SOE Solid Energy announced they’d started mining preparation in Happy Valley - removing the tent camp that has stood watch over the valley for three years, designating the valley a no-go zone, and beginning preparation to turn a beautiful and precious valley into an open-cast eyesore. This completely smashed the Earth Day tranquility, and Metiria was outraged, calling it “criminal” and a “kick in the guts” for the earth on Earth Day. Save Happy Valley Coalition has vowed that the fight to save the valley is not over. Unsurprisingly Labour did not weakly whine on this one – they had years to save the valley from destruction, and 10 million tonnes of coal from being turned into climate change emissions, but didn’t.
So much for celebratory day, huh.