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Wisconsin's battle with PFAS pollution and regulatory pushback

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Wednesday, March 13, 2024

A divided Wisconsin court recently upheld a decision limiting state environmental oversight on PFAS contaminants, a move that has sparked widespread discussion. Bennet Goldstein reports for Wisconsin Watch. In short: A Wisconsin appeals court affirmed a ruling that restricts the Department of Natural Resources from regulating PFAS under the state's spills law. New legislation, if not vetoed, would further limit state authority to mandate PFAS cleanups, allowing polluters to potentially evade responsibility. The legal and legislative efforts represent parallel attempts to weaken environmental protections against PFAS, a persistent and hazardous contaminant. Key quote: “DNR is really kind of being assaulted on all fronts for simply trying to protect the environment and the public health from what we all know, regardless of the contrived legal definition, are hazardous substances.” — Rob Lee, staff attorney with Midwest Environmental Advocates. Why this matters: Across the United States, many states have taken it upon themselves to establish stricter PFAS standards than those set by the federal government. These actions include setting lower allowable limits for PFAS in drinking water, soil, and air; mandating testing of water supplies; and requiring public notification of PFAS levels. Industry groups have voiced concerns over the state Department of Natural Resources setting standards for PFAS in the absence of comprehensive federal regulations. Are you replenishing your electrolytes with a dose of PFAS?

A divided Wisconsin court recently upheld a decision limiting state environmental oversight on PFAS contaminants, a move that has sparked widespread discussion. Bennet Goldstein reports for Wisconsin Watch. In short: A Wisconsin appeals court affirmed a ruling that restricts the Department of Natural Resources from regulating PFAS under the state's spills law. New legislation, if not vetoed, would further limit state authority to mandate PFAS cleanups, allowing polluters to potentially evade responsibility. The legal and legislative efforts represent parallel attempts to weaken environmental protections against PFAS, a persistent and hazardous contaminant. Key quote: “DNR is really kind of being assaulted on all fronts for simply trying to protect the environment and the public health from what we all know, regardless of the contrived legal definition, are hazardous substances.” — Rob Lee, staff attorney with Midwest Environmental Advocates. Why this matters: Across the United States, many states have taken it upon themselves to establish stricter PFAS standards than those set by the federal government. These actions include setting lower allowable limits for PFAS in drinking water, soil, and air; mandating testing of water supplies; and requiring public notification of PFAS levels. Industry groups have voiced concerns over the state Department of Natural Resources setting standards for PFAS in the absence of comprehensive federal regulations. Are you replenishing your electrolytes with a dose of PFAS?



A divided Wisconsin court recently upheld a decision limiting state environmental oversight on PFAS contaminants, a move that has sparked widespread discussion.

Bennet Goldstein reports for Wisconsin Watch.


In short:

  • A Wisconsin appeals court affirmed a ruling that restricts the Department of Natural Resources from regulating PFAS under the state's spills law.
  • New legislation, if not vetoed, would further limit state authority to mandate PFAS cleanups, allowing polluters to potentially evade responsibility.
  • The legal and legislative efforts represent parallel attempts to weaken environmental protections against PFAS, a persistent and hazardous contaminant.

Key quote:

“DNR is really kind of being assaulted on all fronts for simply trying to protect the environment and the public health from what we all know, regardless of the contrived legal definition, are hazardous substances.”

— Rob Lee, staff attorney with Midwest Environmental Advocates.

Why this matters:

Across the United States, many states have taken it upon themselves to establish stricter PFAS standards than those set by the federal government. These actions include setting lower allowable limits for PFAS in drinking water, soil, and air; mandating testing of water supplies; and requiring public notification of PFAS levels. Industry groups have voiced concerns over the state Department of Natural Resources setting standards for PFAS in the absence of comprehensive federal regulations.

Are you replenishing your electrolytes with a dose of PFAS?

Read the full story here.
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Puerto Rico’s rooftop solar boom is at risk, advocates warn

Rooftop solar has been a lifeline for the U.S. territory during blackouts. Now a government entity wants to undo a law protecting a key solar program.

In Puerto Rico, residents are flocking to rooftop solar and backup batteries in search of more reliable, affordable — and cleaner — alternatives to the central power grid. Fire stations, hospitals, and schools continue adding solar-plus-battery systems every year. So do families with urgent medical needs and soaring utility bills. The technology has become nothing short of a lifeline for the U.S. territory, which remains plagued by prolonged power outages and extreme weather events. But a political challenge by a powerful government entity threatens to slow that progress, according to local solar advocates and Democratic members of the U.S. Congress. The new development, they warn, could make it particularly hard for communities and lower-income households to access the clean energy technology. Puerto Rico may also lose the momentum it needs to achieve its target of generating 100 percent of electricity from renewables by 2050. At issue is Puerto Rico’s net-metering program, which compensates solar-equipped households for the electricity their panels supply to the grid. In January, Puerto Rico Governor Pedro Pierluisi, a Democrat, signed a bill extending the island’s existing net-metering policy through 2031, noting later that the program is key to meeting the government’s mandate to ​“promote and incentivize solar systems in Puerto Rico.” But the Financial Oversight and Management Board, or FOMB, is pushing to undo the new law — known as Act 10 — by claiming that it undercuts the independence of the island’s energy regulators. The battle is brewing at a time when the U.S. government is spending over a billion dollars to accelerate renewable energy adoption in Puerto Rico, including a $156.1 million grant through the Solar for All initiative that focuses on small-scale solar. The purpose of these investments is to slash planet-warming emissions from Puerto Rico’s aging fossil fuel power plants while also keeping the lights on and lowering energy costs for the island’s 3.2 million residents. Solar panels cover rooftops in a Puerto Rico neighborhood. Sunrun In a May 17 letter, nearly two dozen U.S. policymakers urged the FOMB to preserve net metering. Among the letter-signers were some of the leading clean energy advocates in Congress, including U.S. Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Raúl M. Grijalva, and Senators Martin Heinrich and Edward Markey. “Any attempt to reduce the economic viability of rooftop solar and batteries by paring back net metering should be rejected at this critical stage of Puerto Rico’s energy system transformation,” the policymakers wrote. Today, Luma Energy, the private consortium that operates the island’s transmission and distribution systems, gives customers credits on their utility bills for every kilowatt-hour of solar electricity they provide. Those incentives help justify the costs of installing rooftop solar and battery systems, which can run about $30,000 for an average-size system, according to the Solar and Energy Storage Association, or SESA, of Puerto Rico. Around 117,000 homes and businesses in Puerto Rico were enrolled in net metering as of March 31, 2024, with systems totaling over 810 megawatts in capacity, according to the latest public data provided by Luma. That’s up from more than 15,000 net-metered systems totaling over 150 MW in capacity in 2019 — the year Puerto Rico adopted its 100 percent renewables goal under Act 17. “One of the main drivers [of solar adoption] here is the search for resiliency,” said Javier Rúa-Jovet, the chief policy officer for SESA. “But it has to pencil out economically too. And if net metering isn’t there, it will not pencil out in a way that people can easily afford it,” he told Canary Media. He said that net metering ​“is the backbone policy that allows people who are not rich to install solar and batteries.” At the same time, new programs are starting to stitch all these individual systems together in ways that can benefit all electricity users on the island. For example, the clean energy company Sunrun recently enrolled 1,800 of its customers in a ​“virtual power plant,” or a remotely controlled network of solar-charged batteries. Since last fall, Luma has called upon that 15 megawatt-hour network over a dozen times to avoid system-wide blackouts during emergency power events, including three consecutive days last week. Renewables now represent 12 percent of the island’s annual electricity generation, up from 4 percent in 2021, based on SESA’s analysis of Luma data. Small-scale solar and battery installations, made affordable by net-metering policies, are responsible for the vast majority of that growth — and undoing those incentives could cause progress to stall out, as has been the case in the mainland U.S. Until recently, Puerto Rico’s net-metering program seemed safe from the upheaval affecting other local policies. A handful of states — most notably California, the nation’s rooftop solar leader — have taken steps to dramatically slash the value of rooftop solar, often arguing that the credits make electricity more expensive for other ratepayers. Before Governor Pierluisi signed Act 10 into law, the Puerto Rico Energy Bureau had been scheduled to reevaluate the island’s net-metering policy — a move that solar proponents worried would lead to weaker incentives. Despite making significant progress, the territory is still far from meeting its near-term target of getting to 40 percent renewables by 2025, and many view rooftop solar and batteries as key to closing that gap. That’s why Puerto Rico’s policymakers opted to delay the bureau’s review and lock in the existing financial incentives for at least seven more years. Under the new law, regulators can’t undertake a comprehensive review of net metering until January 2030. Any changes wouldn’t take effect until the following year, and even then they’d apply only to new customers. However, in April, the Financial Oversight and Management Board urged the governor and legislature to undo Act 10 and allow regulators to study net metering sooner. When that didn’t happen, the board made a similar appeal in a May 2 letter, threatening litigation to have the law nullified. The FOMB was created by federal law in 2016 to resolve the fiscal crisis facing Puerto Rico’s government, which at one point owed $74 billion to bondholders. The board consists of seven members appointed by the U.S. president and one ex officio member designated by the governor of Puerto Rico. The entity has played a central and controversial role in reshaping the electricity system — which was fragile and heavily mismanaged even before 2017’s Hurricane Maria all but destroyed the grid. Sunrun According to the FOMB, Act 10 is ​“inconsistent” with a fiscal plan to restructure $9 billion in bond debt owed by the state-owned Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, which makes the money to pay back its debt by selling electricity from large-scale power plants. Act 10 also ​“intrudes” on the Puerto Rico Energy Bureau’s ability to operate independently, the board wrote, since it prohibits the bureau from studying and revising net metering on its own schedule. “Puerto Rico must not fall back to a time when politics rather than public interest … determined energy policy,” Robert F. Mujica Jr., FOMB’s executive director, wrote in the letter. While the board said it ​“supports the transition to more renewable energy,” its members oppose the way that Puerto Rico’s elected officials acted to protect what is one of the island’s most effective renewable-energy policies. In recent days, solar advocates, national environmental groups, and Democratic lawmakers in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Congress have moved swiftly to defend Puerto Rico’s net-metering extension. They claim that efforts to undo Act 10 are less about upholding the bureau’s independence and more about paving a way to revise net metering. Read Next As fossil fuel plants face retirement, a Puerto Rico community pushes for rooftop solar Esther Frances, Inside Climate News “For the board to basically attack net metering really goes against what my understanding was for their creation, which was to look out for the economic growth of the island,” said David Ortiz, the Puerto Rico program director for the nonprofit Solar United Neighbors. The renewables sector in Puerto Rico contributes around $1.5 billion to the island’s economy every year and employs more than 10,000 people, according to the May 17 letter from U.S. policymakers. Ortiz said his organization ​“is really counting on net metering” to support its slate of projects on the island. Most recently, Solar United Neighbors opened a community resilience center in the town of Cataño, which involved installing solar panels on the roof of the local Catholic church. The nonprofit has also helped residents in three neighborhoods to band together to negotiate discounted rates for solar-plus-battery systems on their individual homes. Javier Rúa-Jovet of SESA noted that net metering has already undergone extensive review. That includes a two-year study overseen by the U.S. Department of Energy, known as PR100, which analyzed how the island could meet its clean energy targets. The study suggests that net metering isn’t likely to start driving up electricity rates for utility customers until after 2030, the year the Energy Bureau is slated to revisit the current rules. PR100’s main finding, which is that Puerto Rico can get to 100 percent renewables, assumes the current net-metering compensation program continues until 2050. The fiscal oversight board has requested that legislation to repeal or amend Act 10 be enacted no later than June 30, the last day of Puerto Rico’s current legislative session. After that point, the FOMB says it will take ​“such actions it considers necessary” — potentially setting the stage this summer for yet another net-metering skirmish in the U.S. Read Next Puerto Rico is using residents’ home batteries to back up its grid Gabriela Aoun Angueira Should policymakers heed the FOMB’s demands, advocates fear it could become harder to develop clean energy systems, particularly within marginalized communities that already bear the brunt of routine power outages and pollution from fossil-fuel-burning power plants on the island. “In a moment where the federal government is investing so much money to help low-income communities access solar, the FOMB on the other side trying to affect that just doesn’t make sense,” Ortiz said.  This story was originally published by Grist with the headline Puerto Rico’s rooftop solar boom is at risk, advocates warn on May 26, 2024.

UK ministers to be challenged in human rights court over protest injunctions

Friends of the Earth will argue private companies are allowed to create their own public order laws that stifle demonstrationsThe government is to be challenged at the European court of human rights over its use of “confusing and opaque” anti-protest injunctions.The environmental group Friends of the Earth (FoE) is to argue such injunctions allow private companies to create bespoke public order laws that stifle peaceful protest. Continue reading...

The government is to be challenged at the European court of human rights over its use of “confusing and opaque” anti-protest injunctions.The environmental group Friends of the Earth (FoE) is to argue such injunctions allow private companies to create bespoke public order laws that stifle peaceful protest.In its challenge, FoE expressed concern over a “rapid and widespread” increase in use of the orders, known as “persons unknown” injunctions, in recent years, amid a wider crackdown on environmental protest and the introduction of strict anti-protest laws in Britain.The injunctions, taken out against unknown and unidentifiable defendants instead of named defendants as normal practice, maximises the number of people who can be caught by them, even if they are unaware of the orders. Those found in breach of the orders face potential imprisonment, more severe sentences than the criminal justice system, asset seizures and exorbitant costs. One protester against HS2, the high-speed rail link, was ordered to pay costs of £25,000 for breaching an injunction.Widely used by oil and gas companies at fracking sites, injunctions have been taken out by Ineos, one of the world’s largest petrochemical companies, which made a £500m profit in 2022, and Cuadrilla, a British-based shale company at the forefront of efforts to exploit UK shale gas, and UK Oil and Gas. Local authorities have also used them.Katie de Kauwe, a lawyer at FoE, said: “Anti-protest injunctions are a confusing, opaque, parallel system of prohibitions that private companies and public authorities are using to create their own bespoke public order laws.”“These measures have really gone under the radar,” she said. “People don’t realise how serious the issues are given the penalties for a breach are so severe. ”Fracking companies increasingly used the orders around 2017 and 2018, De Kauwe said, when communities against fracking had exhausted other means of protest.Sentencing for breaches of such injunctions was often more severe than the equivalent offence under the criminal law, and there could also be huge cost consequences, she said. FoE sought to challenge Cuadrilla’s injunction, but was faced with an £85,000 legal bill if it lost, so withdrew.“It’s crazy that a private company can obtain a more severe sentence than the criminal justice system,” she said.“With the climate crisis spiralling out of control, it’s disturbing that both private companies and public authorities are putting so much effort into preventing people from sounding the alarm, instead of intensifying efforts to build a cleaner future.”“We’ve done everything we can to uphold these rights in our domestic courts, so now we’re taking this issue to the European court of human rights,” said De Kauwe.Others have warned about the impact of such injunctions. In January, the UN rapporteur on environmental defenders condemned the widespread use of civil injunctions to stop peaceful protest. And in 2022, the Wildlife Trusts expressed concern nature reserve visitors might fall foul of a civil injunction brought by HS2 if they strayed on to HS2-owned land, in addition to it stifling protest.skip past newsletter promotionOur morning email breaks down the key stories of the day, telling you what’s happening and why it mattersPrivacy Notice: Newsletters may contain info about charities, online ads, and content funded by outside parties. For more information see our Privacy Policy. We use Google reCaptcha to protect our website and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.after newsletter promotionKatrina Lawrie, 46, was among three anti-fracking protesters given a suspended prison sentence in September 2019 for contempt of court by ignoring a “persons unknown” injunction brought by Cuadrilla to protect its Preston New Road site near Blackpool, Lancashire.“We were shocked when told to expect a custodial sentence,” said Lawrie. “If you are a rich company, you can buy your own justice system. The injunction had a chilling effect on people in the community who wanted to protest but were frightened of what would happen.”Lawrie’s initial suspended sentence of two months in prison was reduced by the court of appeal to four weeks in 2020. Lord Justice Underhill, presiding over the hearing, said at the time: “The court attaches great weight over the right of peaceful protest, even when this causes disruption to others.”Cuadrilla was forced to halt fracking at the shale gas site after triggering what was thought to be the biggest-fracking related tremor seen in Britain in August 2019. The government banned fracking after industry regulators warned it could not be carried out safely without the risk of triggering tremors.FoE’s appeal to the European court of human rights follows a supreme court ruling in November 2023, over injunctions that targeted the Gypsy and Traveller communities and environmental protesters. The court imposed constraints relating to Gypsy and Traveller communities, but made clear they did not apply to anti-protest injunctions.An estimate by FoE counted 14 such injunctions taken out in relation to environmental protests between April and October 2022.

UK’s Environment Agency chief admits regulator buries freedom of information requests

Speaking at the UK River Summit, Philip Duffy said officials do not want to reveal the true ‘embarrassing’ environmental pictureThe head of the Environment Agency has admitted that freedom of information requests have been buried by the regulator because the truth about the environment in England is “embarrassing”.Philip Duffy, the body’s chief executive, told an audience at the UK River Summit in Morden, south London, this week that his officials were “worried about revealing the true state of what is going on” with regards to the state of the environment. Continue reading...

The head of the Environment Agency has admitted that freedom of information requests have been buried by the regulator because the truth about the environment in England is “embarrassing”.Philip Duffy, the body’s chief executive, told an audience at the UK River Summit in Morden, south London, this week that his officials were “worried about revealing the true state of what is going on” with regards to the state of the environment.The regulator holds information including about pollution, the state of England’s waterways, the meetings its bosses have with water company CEOs, and other data about the state of nature in the country.The Information Commissioner’s Office, which oversees the law on the Freedom of Information Act, has warned the regulator that the public have a right to have their requests answered and that transparency should be taken seriously.An ICO spokesperson said: “People have the legal right to promptly receive information they’re entitled to and we take action when they don’t. We’ve been clear that public sector leaders should take transparency seriously and see the benefits it brings, including scrutiny of processes and approaches that can then benefit from improvement.”Under the act, public bodies legally have to answer information requests, and disclosure of information should be the default – in other words, information should be kept private only when there is a good reason, which is permitted by the act.Duffy said: “I see these letters and these FOI requests and I’ve got great volumes of them, and I see local officers going through quite a contorted processes to not to answer when they know, often, the answer but it’s embarrassing.“They do it because they are frightened. They are worried about revealing the true state of what’s going on, they’re worried about reaction from NGOs and others, and possibly from the government, about the facts of the situation. And they’re often working at a local level but in a very nationally charged political environment, which is very difficult for them.”Duffy suggested nature charities were asking questions in a manner that made it harder for Environment Agency staff to respond: “I think the first step there is to understand how hard that is for many of my staff, when they’re faced with often very expert NGOs who are asking very good questions – the right questions ultimately – but [it’s about] how they lower that tone a bit, and manage it.”Under the FOI Act all requests have to be treated equally, whether they are made by a member of the public, an NGO or a journalist.Last year, the Environment Agency was served with an enforcement notice by the ICO because of evidence seen by the commissioner about its performance in relation to its statutory duties under the FOI Act.An Environment Agency spokesperson said: “Philip is completely committed to the highest standards of transparency, as he repeatedly stressed at the River Summit. He wants to make more EA data readily available, and we are already looking at how this can be achieved. He was referring to the concern that some staff working on water feel due to the current tone of the debate, which is often not constructive. This does not impact the process of releasing the information.”

Norfolk Southern to Pay U.S. $310 Million for East Palestine Accident

The railroad company reached an agreement with the federal government to settle claims and costs from the 2023 derailment of a train carrying hazardous materials in the Ohio town.

Norfolk Southern has agreed to pay more than $310 million to settle claims and cover costs stemming from the February 2023 derailment of a freight train carrying hazardous materials in an Ohio town, the federal government said on Thursday.The Department of Justice and the Environmental Protection Agency said the settlement, which still needs to be approved by a federal court, requires Norfolk Southern to improve rail safety and pay for cleanup costs and health and environmental monitoring in and around East Palestine, Ohio, where the accident happened.On a Friday night in early February last year, 38 rail cars on a Norfolk Southern train derailed, 11 of which were carrying hazard materials like vinyl chloride, a chemical used to make plastics. Days later, emergency responders, fearing an explosion, decided to release and burn vinyl chloride from derailed cars, sending vast plumes of dark smoke over the town. Hundreds of residents were evacuated and life in East Palestine was upended for months. There were no deaths.Michael S. Regan, the administrator of the E.P.A., said in a statement that the settlement ensured that the cleanup would be paid for by the company and help prevent similar disasters.“No community should have to experience the trauma inflicted upon the residents of East Palestine,” Mr. Regan said.The biggest part of the settlement is an estimated $235 million to cover past and future costs relating to the environmental cleanup. About $15 million is a civil penalty related to claims that the railroad violated the Clean Water Act.Subscribe to The Times to read as many articles as you like.

NSW government extends life of Australia’s biggest coal-fired power station by two years to 2027

Deal struck with Origin Energy, owner of 2.88-gigawatt Eraring plant near Lake Macquarie, to limit risk of electricity shortages as renewables come onlineFollow our Australia news live blog for latest updatesGet our morning and afternoon news emails, free app or daily news podcastAustralia’s biggest coal-fired power station will remain operational for another two years after the New South Wales government signed a deal with its owner, Origin Energy, in a bid to limit the risk of electricity shortages until more renewables are built.The agreement, announced on Thursday, involves NSW taxpayers underwriting the 2.88-gigawatt Eraring plant near Lake Macquarie to keep generating power beyond the scheduled closure date of August 2025 Origin had set two years ago.Sign up for Guardian Australia’s free morning and afternoon email newsletters for your daily news roundup Continue reading...

Australia’s biggest coal-fired power station will remain operational for another two years after the New South Wales government signed a deal with its owner, Origin Energy, in a bid to limit the risk of electricity shortages until more renewables are built.The agreement, announced on Thursday, involves NSW taxpayers underwriting the 2.88-gigawatt Eraring plant near Lake Macquarie to keep generating power beyond the scheduled closure date of August 2025 Origin had set two years ago.“The people of NSW now have certainty that the NSW government has a plan to ensure we have reliable energy while we transition the workforce and the economy to net zero,” premier Chris Minns said.“The best way to undermine the renewable energy transition is to have the lights go out in 2025. I’m not letting that happen.”The government said it would not make upfront payments to Origin Energy to operate Eraring. An underwriting arrangement would instead operate, capping any losses to operate the plant at 80% or as much as $225m a year.Origin confirmed the agreement in a statement to the ASX this morning. Should Eraring turn a profit during the two years, it would pay the government 20% or no more than $40m a year, it said.Talks between Origin and the Minns Labor government began last year, spurred in part by an independent report that argued for a “temporary” extension of Eraring to “provide NSW with a buffer” to manage the risks if insufficient renewable energy and storage came online in time. A deal had been anticipated.The Australian Energy Market Operator also chimed in earlier this week, warning the slower than expected construction of transmission lines and additional wind and solar farms would create a “reliability gap” of more than 1GW for NSW if Eraring’s closure proceeded as planned.“This is a proactive and sensible step to ensure a plan is in place, if needed, to avoid electricity outages and rising power prices,” energy minister Penny Sharpe said.“The NSW Labor government remains entirely committed to the transition to renewable energy and our emissions reduction targets. A net zero future holds immense opportunities for our state’s economy and our environment.”Analysts such as Tim Buckley, head of Climate Energy Finance, had estimated extending Eraring could cost NSW at least $150m a year and delay efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions. The previous Perrottet Coalition government calculated the cost at as much as $1.6bn to keep Eraring running for 18 months based on sky-high coal prices in early 2023.Stephanie Bashir, principal at Nexa Advisory, said the money would have been better spent accelerating approvals of wind and solar farms while helping more households to put solar panels on their roofs.“If the NSW government was serious about addressing the cost of your energy bill, they would be doing everything in their power to speed up the rollout of large and small-scale renewable energy,” Bashir said before Thursday’s announcement.“Origin is a publicly listed company which should be propped up by shareholders – not taxpayers.”She said the move would “set up a costly and dangerous precedent” for the other three remaining coal plants, Vales Point, Bayswater and Mt Piper.Environmental groups who have been campaigning against Eraring will also be disappointed by the extension.The Hunter Community Environment Centre, for instance, noted in a 2019 report that Eraring’s cooling towers released the daily equivalent of a one-in-40 year flood event into Lake Macquarie. The lake is the largest coastal estuary in eastern Australia, covering about 110km2.Eraring was also source of many heavy metals and had contributed to a coal ash dam of more than 35mt. In 2019, a local recreation area had to be abandoned because of dam safety concerns.Tony Farrell, the deputy chief executive of Lake Macquarie city council, said Eraring and associated coalmines were a very significant employer in the region, supporting many businesses directly and indirectly.An extension of Eraring would not obviate the need to broaden the economic base of the city, Farrell said.“We’ve got to start preparing meaningful plans” for the region beyond coal, he said.

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