Today I reconnected with Dr Ben Ewald from the Hunter, who has been working with Doctors for the Environment. He has been lobbying for a Federal EPA and wrote a submission on the load-based licensing system, which is another name for polluters paying a levy per tonne of pollutant that they produce. There is some charge for each type of pollutant, and the charge can also be loaded for how close the pollutant is to population centres, as this relates to its health impacts. NSW has had such a scheme for years, which is fact the best developed in Australia, but NSW keeps the rate of this tax very low otherwise NSW would merely end up importing electricity from other states that pollute more but had no such tax. Hence the need for a national system. The current NSW fee is only 0.82% of the sale price per megawatt.
Other facts were that there is 1.1 million tonnes a year of Sulphur dioxide produced in Australia, 51% from coal-fired power stations. They also produce 380,000 tonnes of Nitrous oxides, 52% of all produced annually in Australia. Coal-fired power stations produce 8,900 tonnes of PM2.5, which is however only 29% of the national output of PM2.5, which is 31,000 tonnes. PM2.5 is particles of 2.5 microns in diameter, which are the smallest ones measured. There used to be a lot of emphasis on how much pollution in the air by how much weight of pollutant there was per cubic metre of air. Then researchers realised that big particles get caught in the nose, whereas small particles continue down into the lungs and have bigger health effects. So the absolute weight of particles is not as important as the number of smaller particles. Hence the new interest in PM2.5!
It also turns out that while the coal-fired power stations are the ones with the load-based licences, the open cut mines produce the most carbon particle pollution but are exempt from fees! That is a political decision of course. Doctors for the Environment need to be supported as they beaver away producing the submissions and organising the facts that the governments need to be told and that the activists need to amplify! Here is the submission: