In May 2021, Abigail Boyd from the NSW Greens introduced the Protection of the Environment Operations Amendment (Clean Air) Bill 2021 to NSW Parliament. The Clean Air Bill  proposes to amend the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 to introduce tougher standards for concentrations of nitrogen oxides (NOx), sulfur dioxide (SO2), particle pollution (PM) and mercury emissions from coal fired power stations.

It presents a crucial opportunity for law reform and if adopted, it would stop coal-fired power stations emitting dangerous levels of air pollutants. This could significantly reduce the health impacts experienced by communities exposed to air pollution.

Further information about the Clean Air Bill including the second reading speech, which specifically mentions work undertaken by EJA and our allies, can be found here.

Parliamentary inquiry announced

The introduction of the Clean Air Bill was an exciting step for many NSW communities who, for too long, have had their health and wellbeing sidelined by polluting coal-fired power stations.

Since its introduction, the Clean Air Bill has been referred to the NSW Legislative Council’s Portfolio Committee No. 7 – Planning and Environment for inquiry.

This will enable the community to make its voice heard on air pollution from coal-fired power stations.

You can make a submission to the Inquiry until 11.59pm Wednesday 30 June 2021 via the Inquiry webpage.

The Terms of Reference for the Inquiry are broad, enabling submissions to address specific legislative aspects of the Clean Air Bill and/or make submissions more generally on air pollution from coal-fired power stations. To help communities make submissions and representations to the Inquiry, we recommend you review the following resources:

EJA’s submission to the Inquiry

In summary, our submission to the Inquiry calls on the Committee to:

  1. support the Clean Air Bill to facilitate it being commended to the House;
  2. make some minor amendments to the Clean Air Bill to ensure it reflects emissions levels that are achievable with best available pollution control technology;
  3. seek further information from coal-fired power station operators to help inform how and when best available pollution control technology can be implemented;
  4. establish an independent panel of experts to advise on retrofitting NSW coal-fired power stations with best available pollution control technology; and
  5. consider all frameworks for driving down air pollution, for example the NSW load-based licencing scheme.

You can read our full submission here.

This Inquiry is an opportunity to show our support for the Clean Air Bill, and win clean air for communities in NSW. Together, we can have a huge impact.