Victoria’s green regulator is being taken to court for allegedly failing to limit climate pollution.

Environment Victoria has launched legal action against Victoria’s Environment Protection Authority (EPA) and AGL Energy (the owner of coal-fired station Loy Yang A),  EnergyAustralia (owner of the Yallourn power station) and Alinta (which owns Loy Yang B).

Environment Victoria claims the EPA failed to require best practice management of toxic emissions, nor did it take proper account of the principles of environmental protection in the Environment Protection Act and key sections of the Climate Change Act.

“The Andrews government passed nation-leading climate change legislation in 2017, but Victoria’s environment watchdog chose to ignore it when making a crucial decision about coal power-station licences this year,” Environment Victoria chief executive Jono La Nauze said.

“We believe the EPA has failed to protect the health of the community and the environment, so we’re putting the matter before a judge to decide.”

In 2017, the EPA began a review of the three power station licences, leading some to hope that heavier restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions would result.

In March this year, the EPA decided not to force the state’s heavily-polluting coal-fired power stations to lower their greenhouse gas emissions. 

They were instead granted new licenses that capped emissions at “approximately current levels”.

Victoria’s coal stations are responsible for 40 per cent of the state’s greenhouse gas emissions. They are also Victoria’s largest single source of air pollution, including fine particle pollution, mercury, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide.

“If the EPA will not implement the laws that were enacted to protect the air the community breathes and the climate we live in, then it is in the public interest that they are held accountable and their decisions tested in court,” says lawyer Nick Witherow from Environmental Justice Australia, which is representing Environment Victoria.