A ban on burning coal in Reefton? Preserving their lungs will be cold comfort for the locals

When it gets this bad – then you can think about a coal ban…

Alf’s award for tossers of the day goes to the West Coast Regional Council, because the buggers are considering a complete ban on burning coal in Reefton.

Reefton has been built on coal.

The ban is being considered to tackle air pollution in the township.

Air pollution in Reefton?

Betcha whoever decided Reefton has a pollution problem has never been to Beijing or Buenos Aires or Mexico City.

Betcha, too, they have not thought too much about the implications of their thinking for the next greenie challenge to mining on the coast.

The NZ Herald – reporting on the ban under consideration (here) – reminds us that coal was discovered in the area in 1869.

Nowadays the Terrace Mine burrows right under the edge of town, opposite a residential street.

But the air quality has breached national standards twice this winter, the worst year since records began eight years ago. Twice, it was more than double the limit.

Oh dear.

And how many gasping Reeftonites were hauled off to hospital with respiratory problems?

Ah, but there’s nothing quite like finding a problem where there is none to keep a council busy.

And so –

The council held a workshop last week to work through the problem, and plans to hold a public meeting in Reefton.

Chief executive Chris Ingle said a ban on burning coal was on option, as the council favoured moving to wood-burners.

Ensuring stoves could not be banked down overnight was another option, as happened in Christchurch.

So the good people of Reefton will be left to die from the cold instead of from respiratory complaints?

Not necessarily, according to Ingle.

He said the council was trying to balance two health risks – the danger posed by living in a cold, damp home, against breathing in polluted air.

The regional council no doubt is aware that the West Coast of the South Island of New Zealand has substantial resources of coal, gold and other minerals, and potential for oil and gas production.

According to one account of mining’s importance (here) –

The minerals industry is the the driving force behind the economy on the West Coast, and has been since 1860. To put the value of the minerals industry on the West Coast in perspective, it is worth about NZ$900 million per year, as much as the combined value of the dairy industry and the tourist industry in the region

Mrs Grumble dug up some basic economic data (here) –

* The West Coast’s recoverable coal resource is about 260 million tonnes

* Mining is worth more than $500 million a year to the regional economy

* 4 million tonnes of coal is mined annually in the region

* The Stockton mine north of Westport is the largest coal mine in New Zealand, producing approximately two million tonnes of coal per year

* The West Coast produces all of New Zealand’s export coal

* More than 850 people work full-time in the West Coast’s coal mining industry

Hmm.

And now the bloody council is saying that burning this stuff is bad for your health – in much the same way as tobacco is bad for your health.

But don’t worry, folks. We won’t harm our own people. We will ship it out and harm the people somewhere else.

The greenies have been given a propaganda gold mine with this stuff.

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