While Tony Abbott's London climate speech has been widely criticised, research suggests his views have long had a sympathetic ear in Australia's coal heartland.
An open-cut coal mine in the Hunter Valley.
Methane is a stronger greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, and Australia's coal mines are a major source.
Rio Tinto’s Mount Thorley-Warkworth mine in the Hunter Valley, which looks set to expand further. The NSW planning department says it would “not be reasonable” to require Rio Tinto “to completely or even partially backfill the final void”.
Lock The Gate Alliance/Flickr
There are hundreds of derelict mine sites across New South Wales – and the state planning department has admitted it is "not aware of the total size" of large mining voids currently being left behind.
Coal mining in NSW’s Hunter region co-exists with wine growing, racehorse breeding, dairy and other pastoral industries.
If you believe industry propaganda, coal mining is a panacea not only for economic ills but also for smoothing troubled social waters. But a lack of local evidence about the health impact of the coal industry…