Tuesday, 28 February 2017
ABC News, 20 February 2017:
The coal industry's multi-million-dollar advertising and lobbying campaign in the run-up to the last federal election was bankrolled by money deducted from state mining royalty payments and meant to fund research into "clean coal".
The mining industry spent $2.5 million pushing the case for lower-emissions, coal-fired power plants in the run-up to last year's election — a cause the Federal Government has since taken up with gusto.
The source of the funds was a voluntary levy on coal companies, originally intended to fund research into "clean coal" technologies, which coal producers could deduct from state mining royalties.
Instead, some of the money raised paid for phone polling, literature and TV ads that declared "coal — it's an amazing thing".
The funds were channelled through the Australian Coal Association Low Emissions Technology Limited (ACALET), formerly owned by the Australian Coal Association and now part of the Minerals Council for Australia.
Queensland Government documents list "the COAL21 levy payable to Australian Coal Association Low Emissions Technologies Ltd (ACALET)" as an eligible deduction against royalty payments in the state…..
Coal21 was launched more than a decade ago, with the aim of creating a $1 billion fund for research into "clean coal" technologies like carbon capture and storage (CCS), but only a fraction of the money was raised or spent.
With a lack of research projects to finance, the levy was suspended in 2012. In 2013, the coal lobby changed the mandate of Coal21 to downplay research and allow its funds to be used for "coal promotion"…….
In the wake of the coal industry campaign, the Federal Government has embraced the push for lower-emissions, coal-fired power stations and is intending to use considerable public money to fund the technology.
It wants the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC), established to fund zero or very low carbon emissions technology, to be able to fund coal projects.
That will require changing the CEFC's current mandate which prohibits funding technology that reduces emissions by less than 50 per cent and excludes funding of coal carbon capture and storage.
The office of the Federal Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg has been contacted for comment.