Australia Aims to Shield Mining Projects From Green Groups – by Rob Taylor (Wall Street Journal – August 18, 2015)

Push to amend environmental laws comes after court decision overturning approval for Adani mine

CANBERRA, Australia—Australia’s conservative government plans to amend environmental laws to prevent green groups from challenging mining projects in which they have no direct involvement.

Opening another front in a long-running battle with the environmental movement, Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane told Parliament on Tuesday that “there is a strategy to destroy jobs” and that activists were blocking resource projects “regardless of the economic impact on the community.”

The push to amend environmental laws comes after a court earlier this month overturned approval for Indian conglomerate Adani Group to build one of the world’s biggest new coal mines on scrubland near the Great Barrier Reef.

Environmental groups went to court to try to stop the Carmichael coal mine project amid concerns the mine and associated infrastructure in the Galilee Basin of tropical Queensland state could endanger a rare lizard known as the yakka skink and another vulnerable species, the ornamental snake.

After that decision, the government said it would to repeal parts of the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Act that had allowed environmental groups to delay resource projects or even stop them completely.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who has been a skeptic on climate change and a champion of Australia’s powerhouse coal industry, said after the decision that green groups were threatening growth and Australia’s national interests. Mr. Abbott promised after winning power in 2013 to make the country more “open for business.”

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