Our new coal and water report exposes just how much of our country’s freshwater coal corporations consume: a shocking 383 billion litres per year.

Coal uses 120 times more water than wind or solar to produce the same amount of electricity. And coal is the biggest driver of climate change. So as our governments make choices about spending public money on creating a more resilient future, the priority is clear – more clean energy, not coal!

Will you write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper and put this breaking story about coal and water at the forefront of people’s minds?

Letters to the editor are a great way to get an issue into the public view. Sharing your experiences and concerns can generate community discussion and encourage editors to cover these issues more. 

Politicians often keep an eye on the letters page and have a file of opinions published in local newspapers. It is an easy way for them to keep their finger on the pulse of what is happening in their constituency.

Talking points

You can use these handy facts from our coal and water report for background:

  • Coal mines and coal-burning power stations use water to wash and process coal, suppress dust and hose down vehicles.
  • The coal industry guzzles 383 billion litres per year. 
  • It takes 653 litres of water to produce one tonne of coal.
  • Burning coal to generate energy uses a lot of water. A typical 1000-megawatt power station uses enough water every year to meet the basic needs of nearly 700,000 people.
  • The coal industry sometimes pays much less for water than other water users. Adani’s mine was granted a 60-year licence to take unlimited groundwater virtually for free. 
  • Clean energy solutions are here and ready! Energy from the sun and the wind uses 120 times less water than coal to make the same amount of electricity.
  • Most of Australia’s coal-fired power plants are well past their design life use-by dates. They are old, increasingly unreliable and extremely polluting.
  • The coal industry also contaminates water, leaving toxic ash dams and leeching poisonous water into creeks and rivers. 

Tips to get published

  • Try to get your letter in before noon for daily newspapers – it’s more likely to get printed.
  • Include your full name, address and a daytime phone number with your letter. Papers do not print all of this information but may use it for verification. 
  • Don't re-send the same letter again and again – Editors will notice and start to ignore you.

Your letter should be: 

  • Short – Keep it under 200 words. Some great letters are just 20-50 words. 
  • Civil – Keep your letter constructive and aim to get the audience on side. 
  • Simple – Make just one or two key points. People read fast, so use short sentences. Use your own words and consider if your letter will make sense to people who don't know much about this issue.
  • Relevant – It's good to refer to recent reports, like the coal and water report, or recent articles, letters or research about coal, water or clean energy.
  • Engaging – Compelling letters often pull in the reader with a startling fact (like one from the new report!) or a personal and relatable story.

If you can, you should also ask that people reading your letter take action on this issue. 

Generally newspapers publish what they see as well-written and articulate letters that are relevant to current or local issues and points of view, or that give a thoughtful perspective on complex issues and events.

It's often competitive to get published, so don't be concerned if yours doesn't get through. Try your local paper – there's often less competition than in big national newspapers.