Solid Energy wants to set up a pilot plant for underground coal gasification in the Waikato. For those who don't know, underground coal gasification" is a fancy name for starting a coal seam fire. When these occur naturally or as a result of mining accidents, we recognise them for what they are: ongoing environmental disasters which pollute the air and the local water table. But stick a pipe down so you can tap the resulting gas, and it becomes the latest in clean energy technology.
The coal industry really is the pits. Not content with digging great holes in the landscape, they're now planning to cut costs by just lighting up the coal in situ and leaving it to burn. Once started, these fires are basically inextinguishable. But Solid Energy doesn’t care about that - all they care about is next quarter's profits.
This plan is madness. There are mines on the West Coast which have been burning for decades, and Solid Energy wants to light another one up? No thanks.