Monday, August 17, 2009

Bill paves way to 'bright, bold' energy future

ABC News Online,  Mon Aug 17, 2009 

The Government's renewable energy bill has passed the House of Representatives, but another round of negotiations is needed before it will get through the Senate.

The bill provides for 20 per cent of Australia's energy needs to come from renewable sources like wind farms within a decade.

The Opposition supported the bill through the lower house last night after the Government agreed to treat the gas created from coal-mining as a renewable energy source.

Coalition environment spokesman Greg Hunt says he's hopeful the Government will agree to further changes ahead of a Senate vote later this week.

"We think it's not just desirable but highly possible, both sides are showing flexibility, so let's get an agreement , let's get renewable energy, and let's have a bright, bold, energy future," he said.

"We hope that we will be able to reach agreement in the next 48 hours."

The Senate is likely to vote on the bill on Thursday.

Coal gas included

Last night's amendment agreed that gas created from coal mining and used elsewhere as an energy source can be counted within the 20 per cent target.

Climate Change Minister Penny Wong says the amendment will help companies that might otherwise have been forced to close.

Green groups have campaigned against the inclusion of waste gases in the renewable energy scheme.

Greens Senator Christine Milne says coal seam methane is not a renewable energy source.

She says Labor and the Liberals are joining forces to use the renewable energy target to increase the profit margins of the coal sector.

Senator Wong says there will be limits and they will only be part of the scheme until 2020.

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