TUESDAY, Feb 26, 2019: Western Australians are demanding a say on a new policy on climate change and air pollution being developed by the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) behind closed doors.
The EPA is understood to be consulting with industry and “stakeholders” on how much air pollution, including carbon pollution, industries like fracking will be allowed to emit. The policy is also expected to guide EPA assessments of fracking proposals and EPA advice to government on whether such proposals should go ahead.
Unlike previous EPA policies on climate change, which included a public comment period, the public is being left out of the discussions on the new policy.
In response, a coalition of environmental, climate change and anti-fracking groups including Lock the Gate Alliance, organised a protest action outside the EPA offices in Perth.
A spokesperson for Lock the Gate in WA, Jane Hammond, said the action was designed to highlight the lack of public consultation on the detail of the climate policy and air pollution guidelines.
“The EPA will be charged with assessing fracking proposals to determine if they are environmentally acceptable. The climate policy and air pollution emissions guidelines will be among the most important policies guiding those decisions.
“We find it astounding that the public are being kept out of the debate while the gas industry appears to have a rather large seat at the table,” Ms Hammond said.
“We wonder why this is the case and what the government and the EPA are trying to hide from the public.
“Climate change and air pollution are issues that impact on us all and the people of WA have the right to be consulted on the guidelines and targets governing these emissions.
“We are calling for greater transparency, greater accountability and greater public debate on what could be one of the most important policy decisions the government will make in our lifetimes and those of our children and grandchildren.
“We have already seen the WA Government dismiss the concerns of our top climate scientists and others like Professor Fiona Stanley and Professor Peter Newman who have warned that fracking WA would be “grossly irresponsible” due to the greenhouse emissions the industry would create and the predicted impact on global climate stability.
“It is a sign of the regard the government gives to climate issues and emissions. It does not give us hope that the climate policy and air pollution emissions guidelines will serve anything but the needs of big polluters like the oil and gas industry.
“We call on the McGowan Government and the EPA to immediately open the EPA’s climate policy and pollution emissions guidelines to public debate.”