Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Coal for breakfast - Gore!

A 5:30 start got me to Gore on time for the Chamber of Commerce 'Solid Energy' breakfast. Coal was on the menu, and diesel, urea and all sorts of other energy-rich substances.
S.E. man Greg had a slick patter and the Chamber-ites lapped it up, promising as it did, enormous profit and prosperity to them.
No mention at all was made of the environment, nor was there reference to the taxpayer and the burden he and she will have to shoulder through the ETS and the subsidies the Government has promised to Solid Energy as a helping hand.

Questions about rumours that the topsoil removed in order to begin scraping out the open cast mine were denied by Mr Solid, who explained that the landscape would be rehabilitated. Curiously, he negated that claim while answering the next question about the lake that SE have promised to leave behind in place of the removed lignite. The unspoken question left hanging in the air was 'Where in a lake do you deploy topsoil?'
I was very taken by their phrase 'Stairway to prosperity', used to decribe the incremental way they are planning to develop first the 'acceptable', 'safe' developments, then build upon the success/acceptance of those.
The present phase is clearly 'building a happy picture for the people of Mataura, Gore, Southland" (in that order). Today's meet the burghers was clearly a step in that direction, as was the front page article in today's Times headed "$377 m a year from lignite"


Nick said...

Gluttons! Did the Otago attendees ignite? I hope you weren't foolish enough to eat that sausage!

robertguyton said...

Yes they did Nick - great to see them there.
I wouldn't touch a Solid sausage with a barge pole.
I had cornflakes, pears and yoghurt.
Everyone else seemed to have a plate-full of bangers.

Anonymous said...

Don't forget that the public may end up getting milked if Solid Energy gets this one through...

'The state owned coal miner, Solid Energy, would be entitled to a subsidy on the cost of emissions from its proposed lignite to urea plant worth tens of millions of dollars a year.'

'Coal Miner Would Qualify For Millions In Taxpayer Subsidies'

are probably not the kind of headlines Solid Energy gets in the ODT or Southland Times.

Tarsh said...

Haha yes, but "the benefits to GDP vastly outweigh the cost to the tax payer through the ETS" remember... ;)
I love that you took a photo of their food!! AND Robert bravely sat at the front table with the Solid Energy rep... we were not so brave

robertguyton said...

Nice un-earthing of relevant documents Anonymous.
I presented that point to Solid Greg at question-time this morning and he looked mighty uncomfortable then hauled out the old 'benefit to the economy that will benefit us all' argument.
He neglected to mention that the benefit of our taxpayer money would be to his Enterprise.

robertguyton said...

Hey Tarsh!
It was great to see you (two) at the breakfast (you forgot to wear a power suit!).
Your question(s) were very good. Did you laugh (wryly) at the 'mistake' Greg made answering the 'are you selling the topsoil' question?
'Recreational lake' indeed!

Tim Jones said...

Good to read your report, Robert! Every argument used by the pro-lignite types is almost a word-for-word rerun of the arguments used by the proponents of building an aluminium smelter at Aramoana in the late 1970s/early 1980s - and as we know, that plan was defeated. It looks like the menu at Chamber of Commerce breakfasts hasn't changed much either.

robertguyton said...

Hi Tim - they certainly are working to a process and it's all about incremental gains - a little hole here (nothing to get upset about)a little processing plant here (no bigger than a garden shed really) - a councillor (or two) on the local District Board, some generous donations to disaster relief, laptops to the local school following a burglary ...