Green Power or Green Wash?

Burning forests for power – back on agenda

If Mr Bracks wants to increase drought and weather extremes in the state, he’s doing a great job, but they’ll need an army of spin doctors to sell this latest one to the public. The Bracks government is again planning to generate power by burning Victoria’s native forests.

In 2002, ALP policy prohibited the burning of native forests for power generation. More than ever, forests are now acknowledged as critical carbon stores and soaks, water producers and oxygen makers. But in mid-April, the ALP tabled a new set of Victorian Renewable Energy Target (VRET) rules that would allow native forest ‘waste’ to be burnt for power generation. Now, we all know what ‘waste’ means, don’t we. The government’s definition of ‘waste’ has allowed over three-quarters of all wood taken from a clearfelled forest to be woodchipped. There is a very smelly rat behind this sudden change of VRET policy.

Federal Labor’s spokesperson on Forestry and Transport, Martin Ferguson, has been doing an impressive job trying to push the message ‘logging is good for greenhouse’. He reckons the logging industry now has the high moral ground on the environment. He urges the logging industry to join ranks with the CFMEU and fight green groups. Ferguson claims that more logging will help our climate. This will be achieved, he advocates, by burning 5 million tonnes of ‘wood waste’ from logging Australia’s forests. The ‘logic’ is, that it will generate power that could help meet our renewable energy targets. Currently more than 5 million tonnes are exported every year to supply the export woodchip markets.

He accused power companies of being scared of green groups and being too worried about the image of burning wood as politically incorrect. The power companies have every reason to steer clear of selling burnt possums as green power!

Jill / Financial Review 29.5.07/ Federal Parliament 28.5.07

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