In 2015, EDO successfully challenged the Federal Government’s approval of Adani’s Carmichael coal mine in central Queensland, on behalf of the Mackay Conservation Group (MCG).
The case was won over the Federal Environment Minister’s failure to take into account the approved conservation advices for the Yakka Skink and the Ornamental Snake.
With the consent of the parties, the Court set aside the decision of the Minister because his decision was legally flawed.
MCG also alleged that the Federal Environment Minister failed to properly consider the impact of the Carmichael mine on the Great Barrier Reef when he approved the project.
Given that climate change is the greatest threat to the survival of the Reef, MCG said that the Minister should have considered greenhouse gas emissions arising from the burning of the coal by Adani in India, not just the emissions from mining the coal.
MCG said that under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, the Minister unlawfully limited his consideration of greenhouse gas emissions from the mine to those that are reportable under the National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting Act 2007 Act, which covers only emissions from mine operations. However, emissions from the burning of the coal once it is exported to India will by far eclipse any emissions generated in Australia by the mining process itself.
The claim also alleged that the Minister failed to properly consider Adani’s poor environmental record in India before approving the mine. In 2013 the Indian government found Adani guilty of serious breaches of Indian environmental law, including illegally clearing mangroves and destroying tidal creeks. Indian Courts had also found in 2012 that infrastructure associated with Adani’s port in Mundra had been built without environmental approvals. The case alleged that the Minister ignored that evidence, instead relying on an earlier statement made by Adani in 2010 that it has a good environmental record overseas.
While Environmental Minister Greg Hunt subsequently re-approved the mine, with additional compliance conditions, the case demonstrated EDO’s ability to ensure governments and corporations follow the rule of law when approving projects.