darren.chester.mp@aph.gov.au 1300 131 785
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December 9, 2009

$120 million has been announced for a pre-feasibility study to investigate piping carbon from Latrobe Valley power stations to store it underground.

The Nationals Member for Gippsland Darren Chester said the announcement was a large step forward for the clean coal technology, which could store three to five megatonnes of carbon from coal-fired power plants per year.

“We have 500 years of brown coal in the Latrobe Valley and we need to explore ways to use this resource in the most environmentally sustainable way possible,” Mr Chester said.

“This investment in clean coal technologies further supports the arguments that governments must do more to make sure power generators in the Latrobe Valley remain viable because in the longer term, it will be the power generators that will need to invest in this technology on a commercial scale.

“Coal is going to continue to play a vital part in providing base load energy needs for Victoria.  It could be supported by other renewable forms of energy, like solar, wind or thermal, but these will complement rather than replace our essential brown coal supply.”

Mr Chester said investment in clean coal technologies and government support of the power stations was critical to protecting the jobs of the Latrobe Valley power industry.

“I voted against the emissions trading scheme in the Latrobe Valley because it is not in anyone’s interest to jeopardise the economic viability of the power generators by implementing a massive new tax without any global commitment to similar action,” Mr Chester said.

“It is estimated that the value added in Latrobe City from the coal and electricity industry sectors is $802 million per year, or 21.2 per cent of the gross regional product.  There are 125 people employed in the coal mining sector and 1,705 people employed in the electricity supply sector. The flow-on impacts of such a major industry is obviously very significant to the entire region in terms of the training opportunities it provides to young people and the contracting opportunities for the private sector.”

“We must not get ahead of ourselves and place Australian jobs at risk.  We must stand up for jobs in our regions.”

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