Australian news, and some related international items

A responsible global citizen would not sell uranium to Ukraine

Aust-two-faced-on-peace 7 Feb 17  Selling Australian uranium to Ukraine would increase the risks of war, civil unrest and corruption in the eastern European country, the Australian Conservation Foundation said today.

The Joint Standing Committee on Treaties today recommended the conditional ratification of the nuclear co-operation agreement with Ukraine even though the committee’s own investigation conceded existing safeguards were ‘not sufficient’ and there was a risk Australian nuclear material would disappear off the radar in Ukraine.

“Australia, the nation that fuelled Fukushima should not sell uranium to the country that gave us Chernobyl,” said ACF’s Dave Sweeney.

“The treaties committee’s report found ‘Australian nuclear material should never be placed in a situation where there is a risk that regulatory control of the material will be lost’ (2.53), yet that is exactly what could happen under the inadequate checks and balances that apply to exported Australian uranium.

“The committee’s report clearly states the Australian government must undertake a detailed and proper risk assessment and develop an effective contingency plan for the removal of ‘at risk’ Australian nuclear material.

“There can be no justification for seeking to fast-track uranium sales based on this report.

“Australia should be very cautious about contributing nuclear fuel to an already tense geo-political situation in eastern Europe.  Tensions recently flared again in Ukraine.

“Ukraine’s nuclear sector is plagued by serious and unresolved safety, security and governance issues.

“Two-thirds of Ukraine’s aging fleet of 15 nuclear reactors will be past its design lifetime use-by date in just four years.

“This is an insecure and unsafe sector and a risky sales plan.

“ACF calls on the federal government to be a responsible global citizen and not to advance uranium sales to Ukraine.”

February 8, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, uranium | Leave a comment

Cory Bernardi spouts the climate denialism of American right-wing “think tanks”

Australia’s richest woman, the mining magnate Gina Rinehart, is also reportedly backing Bernardi and joined him in meetings in New York in late 2016 with key figures from the Donald Trump camp.

Rinehart has previously supported speaking tours by Lord Christopher Monckton, the British climate science denier once described as a “vaudeville artist” by a former version of Malcolm Turnbull (the one that claimed to care deeply about climate change).

bernardi-coryHow Cory Bernardi was inspired to push climate denial from US conservative groups, Guardian,  Graham Readfearn, 7 Feb 17  Climate science denial group the Heartland Institute helped inspire Cory Bernardi and Malcolm Roberts to push back against policies to cut emissions   I

If the dissident conservative senator Cory Bernardi’s new political party shares the views of its founder, then we can chalk up it up as another fringe party firmly in the climate science denial camp.

Ignoring mountains of evidence from multiple lines of inquiry carried out over many decades, Bernardi has for a long time chosen to listen instead to fake experts pushing talking points that walk like zombies through barbecue conversations across Australia.

A Bernardi-led party would join One NationFamily First, the Liberal Democratsand Rise Up Australia in rejecting the evidence for action on cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

Many of the climate change talking points pushed individually and collectively by these political groups perfectly match the propagandised science pushed by conservative “free market” thinktanks in the US.

Like Bernardi, the likes of One Nation and Family First have taken their cues and inspiration from that US network of ideological “thinktanks”that push climate science denial as if their lives, or their salaries, depended on it.

 Let me explain.

Bernardi has been much more than just an outspoken politician who thinks human-caused climate change is mostly a fraud and that carbon prices are just “a form of socialism”.

Bernardi has been a funder and an organiser of the opposition to action on climate change in Australia for years. Continue reading

February 8, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | 1 Comment

Chief Scientist Alan Finkel warns of Trump’s Stalin-like attack on science

finkel-alanAustralia’s chief scientist compares Trump to Stalin over climate censorship
highly-recommendedAlan Finkel warns that forcing EPA data to undergo political review before publication will ‘cause long-term harm’,
Guardian, , 7 Feb 17, Australia’s chief scientist has slammed Donald Trump’s attempt to censor environmental data, saying the US president’s behaviour was comparable to the manipulation of science by the Soviet Union.

Speaking at a scientific roundtable in Canberra on Monday, Alan Finkel warned science was “literally under attack” in the United States and urged his colleagues to keep giving “frank and fearless” advice despite the political opposition.

“The Trump administration has mandated that scientific data published by the United States Environmental Protection Agency from last week going forward has to undergo review by political appointees before that data can be published on the EPA website or elsewhere,” he said.

“It defies logic. It will almost certainly cause long-term harm. It’s reminiscent of the censorship exerted by political officers in the old Soviet Union.

“Every military commander there had a political officer second-guessing his decisions.”

Last month Trump’s administration mandated that any studies or data from scientists at the EPA undergo review by political appointeesbefore they can be released to the public.

The communications director for Trump’s transition team at the EPA, Doug Ericksen, said the review also extended to content on the federal agency’s website, including details of scientific evidence showing the Earth’s climate was warming and human-induced carbon emissions were to blame.

Finkel compared the Trump administration’s attempt to censor science to the behaviour of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin.

“Soviet agricultural science was held back for decades because of the ideology of Trofim Lysenko, who was a proponent of Lamarckism,” he said……..

February 8, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international | Leave a comment

False information that Russia is to blame for Ukraine violence

Oliver Stone: Reports Russia to blame for Ukraine violence are fake news, Belfast Telegraph 04/02/2017 Oscar-winning director Oliver Stone has branded reports that Russia is responsible for the escalating violence in Ukraine as “fake news”.   The American film-maker said claims Russia was “aggravating the situation” in the warzone were untrue and insisted the United States had a “huge responsibility” for the continuing conflict.

Stone, who interviewed Russian President Vladimir Putin for his new documentary, Ukraine On Fire, also backed President Donald Trump’s bid to improve US-Russian relations.

Speaking at a screening of the film in Los Angeles, Stone claimed America had used the Ukrainian conflict to “blackball” Russia and “keep the concept of Nato alive”.

He told the Press Association: “(America) has a huge role, a huge responsibility and has denied it. It’s completely denied the whole truth of the situation.

“It’s a very painful situation for the people who live in that area but at the same time it’s used by the United States to blackball Russia as much as possible and keep the concept of Nato alive.

“It’s a very important film and a very important subject that has been swept under the rug by our country. “Frankly today I’m shocked they published fake news that the Russians are aggravating the situation when all the casualties are in (rebel-held) Donetsk.   He added: “It’s a horrible situation and totally fake.”………

Stone, who won best director Oscars for Platoon and Born On The Fourth Of July, produced the documentary Ukraine On Fire which looks at the country’s revolution in 2014.

The film features an interview with ousted Ukrainian leader Viktor Yanukovych and argues he was the victim of a US-inspired coup with the intent of pushing back against Russia.

February 8, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Malcolm Turnbull’s political double-speak on energy policy

Turnbull climate 2 facedIs Malcolm Turnbull’s priority really just keeping the lights on?, Guardian, Kristina Keneally, 6 Feb 17  It seems Turnbull is basing his core political agenda for 2017 on a rare weather event. It’s a textbook definition of being buffeted by events rather than shaping them  Imagine a severe thunderstorm had not hit South Australia last September and caused a state-wide blackout. What on earth would the Turnbull government have to talk about?

The day after the South Australian storm, the energy minister, Josh Frydenberg, nominated “energy security” as the government’s number one priority.

Last week at the National Press Club, Malcolm Turnbull said that this year his government would prioritise energy security and storage.

The Turnbull government is basing its core political agenda for 2017 on a once-in-50-years weather event. This must be the textbook definition of a government buffeted by events rather than shaping them.

Let’s set aside – for a moment – the happenstance nature of the Turnbull government’s top policy priority and instead consider the relevance of its pitch to voters. What does energy security even mean? When was the last time you used that phrase in conversation? Does it have something to do with defence? Is it keeping our power plants safe from attack?

 Energy security is classic bureaucratic jargon. It’s political double-speak. Come on, Malcolm, just say your priority in government is to keep the lights on.

And if that is the Turnbull government’s priority, well, that’s pathetic. So much for innovation, agility, jobs and growth, and budget repair. The Turnbull government is flat out making sure our fridges are still running and we can still charge our mobile phones. They have no ambition or time for anything greater.

But the biggest joke of all is that Turnbull can’t even manage to pretend for more than a week that energy security is his number one priority. Last night Turnbull told Channel Nine’s Laurie Oakes that “what I set out is our agenda for this year and what we’re going to deal with is ­energy prices”.

Energy security and energy prices. Yeah, they are not the same thing. Continue reading

February 8, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy, politics | Leave a comment

“Alternative facts” form the basis of Trump and Turnbull’s energy policies

Turnbull’s over-riding ambition is to last at least one day longer as prime minister than Abbott. That means that he will remain beholden to the right, who are ready to push the self-destruct button at any moment in the fervent belief that they can win power, if not immediately then after a single term of Labor.  

Like Trump, Turnbull’s energy policy is based on “alternative facts”  By  on 7 February 2017 The first few weeks of the Trump administration have been extraordinary, and quite frightening – not just because of the incompetence of a president who appears to be little more than a self-obsessed idiot, but by the actions of the dangerous ideologues at the helm of the world’s biggest economy and military power.

There have been shocks across the policy spectrum, but probably none more so than in climate and clean energy, where Trump has promised to throw the baby out with the bathwater, quit the Paris deal, disband or dismember environmental regulations, “re-invent” coal, stop renewables and build more gas Map Turnbull climatepipelines.

It might sound stone-cold crazy to many people in Australia, but it should be familiar: There is little that Trump and his regime is doing on climate and clean energy that has not already achieved, or attempted, by the current Coalition government in Canberra. Continue reading

February 8, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, energy, politics | Leave a comment

Australian Energy Market Operator confident of wind power security in South Australia

“If the same sequence of events happened today the system black would not occur,” Marxsen told the audience, according to one source.

This is an important concession from AEMO. It suggests that South Australia, even with around 40 per cent wind energy and a further 6 per cent from rooftop solar, is not at risk of a system-wide shut-down that affected the state late last year.

Parkinson-Report-AEMO says wind farm changes mean SA blackout won’t be repeated By  on 6 February 2017

The Australian Energy Market Operator says it is confident that adjustments made to wind farm software means there is no risk of the South Australia blackout being repeated in the future.

AEMO chairman Tony Marxsen told more than 100 energy experts at a presentation under the auspices of the Electrical Energy Society of Australia last week that the “system black” event in South Australia in September – which has set off a huge debate about renewable energy across the country – would not be repeated. Continue reading

February 8, 2017 Posted by | South Australia, wind | Leave a comment

Traditional Owners act to defeat Adani’s invalid Indigenous Land Use Agreement

                         No surrender – Traditional Owners move to defeat Adani’s ‘fake ILUA’  Wangan & Jagalingo 7 February 2017  Traditional Owners act to defeat Adani’s invalid Indigenous Land Use Agreement in the wake of Noongar ruling
W&J Council will seek a declaration to knock out ‘fake ILUA’

Lawyers for the Wangan and Jagalingou (W&J) Traditional Owners Councilhave today written to Adani
demanding it withdraw its application to have an Indigenous Land Use Agreement (ILUA)
for its proposed Carmichael mine registered by the National Native Title Tribunal (NNTT).
Should Adani refuse, a declaration will be sought in the Federal Court to have the ILUA struck out.
See the Letter.

“Members of the W&J Council lodged a formal objection last year to the purported ILUA.
The NNTT was due to make its decision this Friday, however the Federal Court in the matter of
McGlade v Native Title Registrar [2017] throws doubt on whether Adani’s agreement is a valid ILUA.

Leading Aboriginal rights advocate, a primary W&J Traditional Owner and Council spokesperson, Mr. Adrian Burragubba, says,
“We make it plain to the Queensland and Federal Governments that we will not surrender our ancestral homelands for Adani’s mine of mass destruction.
We will defeat this company’s attempts to divide and conquer us and continue our legal battles to remove the leases issued by the Queensland Government.

““Our fight is far from over.
Anyone who wants to bankroll Adani, and the Queensland and Commonwealth Governments,
are on notice that we will not stand by if attempts are made, in response to the Noongar decision,
to put our rights and interests, and our laws and customs, on the chopping block for the mining lobby,” he said. …

W&J youth leader and Council spokesperson, Ms. Murrawah Johnson, says,
“We have maintained all along that Adani does not have the consent of the rightful Traditional Owners.
Our Traditional Owners group have rejected an ILUA with Adani three times.
We will defeat Adani’s fake ILUA and continue to fight for our land and culture until the company
and Governments respect our rights and abandon this disastrous proposal”.

“In seeking Adani’s withdrawal, W&J Council has not removed its objection to the registration of the Adani ILUA by the NNTT. … “


February 8, 2017 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, Queensland | Leave a comment

Like dominoes, Toshiba’s nuclear power projects are c ollapsing

nuclear-dominoesToshiba’s Nuclear Projects Falling Like a Row of Dominos February 6, 2017, The Energy Collective by Dan Yurman   The Japanese conglomerate is expected to announce Feb 14 that it will pull out of projects in the UK (3 AP1000s) and India (6 AP1000s) due to its deep financial difficulties.
Westinghouse may be sold off for its technology and services lines of business, but new investors will be needed for the projects in the UK and India.

A sense of panic is emerging globally as Toshiba, troubled by extensive losses and fake financial reports, heads toward a complete exit from the commercial nuclear energy industry. The two countries that will be hardest hit by the expected actions will be the UK and India.

Unlike the situation following the Fukushima crisis, in which the Japanese government in effect nationalized TEPCO, no bailout of Toshiba is expected to come to its rescue. ……..

NuGen Project Faces Investor Uncertainty

Toshiba will likely end its planned commitment for a 60% equity stake in the NuGen Consortium at the UK Moorside project located in Cumbria. An effort to build three 1150 MW Westinghouse AP1000 nuclear reactors will now need new investors or a new reactor vendor or both.

In the UK backers of the NuGen project are looking to see if the government will directly fund the effort Continue reading

February 8, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Australia and USA governments under control of vested interests regarding climate change

fossil-fuels-germanyIn Australia and the US, sound climate policy is being held hostage by vested interests

We must shift away from a culture of politically motivated climate change denialism to an acceptance of the truly existential threat now facing humanity, Guardian,  and , 7 Feb 17           It’s been a bad couple of weeks for the world’s climate and environment. The inauguration of billionaire property developer and reality TV star Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States has presaged a new Dark Age of climate politics.

In an opening fortnight of controversial executive orders, President Trump has decreed the expansion of major fossil fuel developments including the controversial Keystone XL and Dakota Access oil pipelines, and the neutering of long-standing environmental protections. In addition, he and his leadership team have made it plain they intend to dismantle many of the Obama administration’s climate initiatives and withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement. All this runs in direct counterpoint to the rapid decarbonisation required to avoid dangerous climate change.

For Australian fossil fuel interests, President Trump’s war on climate appears particularly opportune. Just last week, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and his senior ministers floated the idea of government backing for new coal-fired power stations as part of the government’s response to Australia’s “energy security” and expressed reticence over the country’s Renewable Energy Target.

For a country that has nurtured world-leading innovations in solar photovoltaic and other renewable energy technologies and that is particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change – be it in the form of record heat, devastating floods, more widespread drought, coastal inundation from sea level rise combined with stronger tropical storms, or the demise of the Great Barrier Reef – doubling down on the traditional fossil fuel energy path is particularly short-sighted. Continue reading

February 8, 2017 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Queensland govt will back renewable energy, not new coal-fired power stations

No new coal-fired power stations planned for Queensland, Australian Financial Review, by Mark Ludlow, 7 Feb 17 The Palaszczuk Labor government said it had no plans to back any new coal-fired power stations in Queensland, despite the Turnbull government planning to use the $5 billion Northern Australia Infrastructure Fund to help bankroll new base-load power in the state’s far north.

Energy Minister Mark Bailey – who is attempting to transform the state’s power mix from 7 per cent to 50 per cent renewables in the next 13 years – said new “clean coal” power stations were too expensive and there was more than enough wind, solar and hydro projects about to come online in the state.

“There is simply no need for new coal-fired base load generation in North Queensland,” Mr Bailey said.

“With the start of a large scale renewable industry under the Palaszczuk government, North Queensland is getting its own power stations, with twenty-first century producing affordable, clean energy.”

It comes as Mr Bailey has written to federal Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg to accuse him of using flawed modelling to criticise the state Labor governments and their ambitious renewable energy targets.

These include Queensland (50 per cent by 2030), South Australia (50 per cent by 2025), Victoria (40 per cent by 2025) and the ACT (100 per cent by 2020).

In the letter, obtained by The Australian Financial Review, Mr Bailey questioned the $27 billion figure Mr Frydenberg has repeatedly claimed would be the cost of the state renewable programs, asking since late last year to publicly release the modelling to back up the figure.

“I am disappointed by the lack of detail provided in your response in which you simply outlined some of the data sources used in your department’s analysis,” Mr Bailey said in the letter.

“As a consequence, your response leaves me no clearer as to how the capital cost estimate of $27 billion was calculated. It confirms my concerns, however, about your use of this figure which even with limited visibility of your modelling is clearly flawed.”

Mr Bailey said the Turnbull government was continuing to “demonise renewable energy” and undermine Queensland’s consumer confidence by attacking the state renewable targets. He said the state was committed to moving away from fossil fuels, with more than 680 megawatts of new renewable projects, worth $1.5 billion, in the pipeline.

Last week Chief Scientist Alan Finkel – who is conducting a review for the Turnbull government on energy security – said taxpayer money should not be used to subsidise high-efficiency, low-emission coal plants, such as those used in Japan………

Meanwhile, the Clean Energy Regulator has warned electricity retailers that they have until the deadline of February 14 to meet their obligations under the Renewable Energy Target. It follows ERM Power, one of Australia’s largest electricity retailers, choosing to pay a $123 million penalty rather than their RET liabilities.

“Paying a shortfall charge does not support generation to meet the 2020 target [of 23.5 per cent],” the Clean Energy Regulator said. “The intentional failure to surrender certificates will be viewed as a failure to comply with the spirit of the law and an undermining of the objectives and integrity of the scheme.”

February 8, 2017 Posted by | energy, Queensland | Leave a comment

How to recycle lithium batteries

recycle-rare-earths-2EurekAlert  7-FEB-2017 Efficient approach to leaching lithium and cobalt from recycled batteriesINDERSCIENCE PUBLISHERS Rechargeable lithium ion batteries power our phones and tablets they drive us from A to B in electric vehicles, and have many applications besides. Unfortunately, the devices that they power can fail and the batteries themselves are commonly only usable for two to three years. As such, there are millions batteries that must be recycled. Research published in the International Journal of Energy Technology and Policy describes a new way to extract the lithium and the cobalt that make up the bulk of the metal components of these batteries…..

February 8, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment