The Federal Government has given a big rubber stamp to the endlessly controversial Adani Carmichael coal mine project, sparking an immediate backlash from environmental campaigners and removing one of the final hurdles before the Queensland endeavour gets underway.
Environment Minister Melissa Price today announced her department had approved final groundwater management plans after taking advice from the CSIRO and Geoscience Australia on the open-cut coal mine’s potential impact on its surrounds.
In a statement, Price said the project was given the OK on the condition it adheres to strict environmental plans, saying the project “has been subject to the most rigorous approval process of any mining project in Australia.”
However, Price reiterated it will ultimately be up to the Queensland pollies to greenlight nine remaining environmental plans.
Energy Minister Angus Taylor also stepped in, telling Sky News Australia the project will support local industry and provide stacks of jobs for QLD workers.
Despite the Federal Government’s insistence that the project won’t irrevocably mess up groundwater in Queensland’s Galilee Basin, opponents have slammed the decision as a concession to mega-polluters and an insult to climate change realists.
The Lock The Gate Alliance, one of the most vocal activist groups campaigning against the project, said the approval set a dangerous precedent.
“This rushed decision just prior to the election is one of the most compromised environmental approvals this country has ever seen,” said spokesperson Carmel Flint, claiming that water resources that are vital to farmers in the region will be damaged by the dig.
That sentiment was mirrored by Queensland Greens Senator Larissa Waters, who tweeted Price has “agreed to put our precious groundwater at risk” for a “climate-wrecking, Reef-bleaching & job-destroying mega coal mine.”
Federal Opposition Leader Bill Shorten suggested the approval was suspect, saying “maybe the government’s decided to rush the decision out on Adani so they don’t have to talk about a bigger problem that they have created on their own.”
It’s all down to Queensland now, and a project which opponents say would only serve to accelerate the decline of the natural environment and effectively microwave the Great Barrier Reef suddenly seems mighty close.