The two doctors went head to head on television this morning. Dr Jan Wright, Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment discussed the viability of mining lignite with Solid Energy's CEO Dr Don Elder. I have tried to list the points each made and you can be the judge of who came out on top. I guess a lot depends on your value base before you make that assessment, but for me the winner was clear!
Dr Don Elder
- This will earn us up to $5 billion a year when we are in the middle of tough economic times.
- We will be able to provide our own fuel for our transport.
- We can provide urea to support our farming industry.
- If new Zealanders want us to deal with the carbon dioxide emissions we will, we can store them in the ground or plant trees.
- Ideally we would like to mine the lignite as soon as possible.
- We are a state owned industry and are controlled by all New Zealanders.
Dr Jan Wright
- The carbon emissions will be huge (Solid Energy alone will be releasing up to 17 million tonnes a year) and will shift us backwards as regards our commitments to the Copenhagen Agreement.
- There is no reliable way of capturing the carbon at present, carbon storage is still not viable technology.
- There are also two other mining companies wanting to mine the lignite that are not New Zealand owned that will have no obligation to deal with the carbon issue. There is no guarantee that Solid Energy will remain in New Zealand hands.
- New Zealand tax payers will likely foot the bill for Solid Energy's carbon emissions.