Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Adani Coal Company Attempted to Search Home of Activist Who Opposes Its Australian Mine

Adani Coal Company Attempted to Search Home of Activist Who Opposes Its Australian Mine
Protestors demonstrate against the Adani coal company outside Australia Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg's Camberwell office on Oct. 3, 2017. John Englart / Flickr

Coal company Adani sought to raid the home of an environmental activist who opposed its controversial mine in Queensland, Australia's Galilee Basin, court documents have shown.

The company tried twice to request a search order known as an Anton Piller order to enter the home of activist Benjamin Pennings, maintaining that he had access to confidential documents that only company higher ups should possess, Australia's ABC News reported Wednesday.

"My wife and I have three school-aged children living at home, one with a disability," Pennings said in a statement reported by ABC News. "Adani has failed in two recent Supreme Court applications to raid our family home for corporate secrets they believe I possess. They want to silence dissent about their destructive thermal coal project that a majority of Australians oppose."

Pennings handles media and strategy for Galilee Blockade, an activist group that uses non-violent direct action like boycotts and blockades to prevent fossil fuel extraction in the Galilee Basin.

Adani's mine is controversial in part because it would open up the area, a currently untapped coal reserve, for eight other mines, according to another activist group Stop Adani. Adani's mine alone would add 4.6 billion tonnes (approximately 5 billion U.S. tons) of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere at a time when Australia is already suffering from bushfires and flooding made worse by the climate crisis.

Adani's attempts to search Pennings' home were intended to bolster a civil case the company served against the activist on Wednesday, The Guardian reported.

Adani is suing Pennings for financial losses, intimidation, conspiracy and court costs. They claim activist pressure prompted contractors Downer EDI, AECOM and Greyhound Australia to drop their support of the mine.

Adani also wants Pennings to stop promoting the "Dob in Adani" campaign, which solicits information on Adani's contractors and their activities, ABC News reported.

Ahead of the suit, the company and its Carmichael Rail Network applied for the Anton Piller order to prove Pennings had "confidential information on a computer at his home" that only company executives should have had access to. Anton Piller orders are used to secure evidence from defendants for legal proceedings.

Adani and Charmichael first applied for the order in June and then appealed the court's initial rejection in July.

In rejecting the appeal, the court ruled that the company did not have enough evidence to justify a search that could cause undue harm to Pennings and his family.

"Surely, to permit a search of a defendant's house, with the humiliation and family distress which that might involve, lies at the outer boundary of the discretion," the Court of Appeal judges ruled last week, as ABC News reported. "This is because, for reasons that anyone can understand, the 'shock, anger, confusion' and the 'sense of violation and powerlessness' will be much greater in such a case and may be suffered not only by someone who is proved in due course to be a wrongdoer, but by entirely innocent parties as well."

Adani maintained that, in pursuing legal action against Pennings, it was not seeking to restrict free speech.

"We really believe that everyone has the right to express their own opinion, we support that. It's a core part of democracy," Adani in Australia communications lead Kate Campbell told ABC News. "But we think it's important that people express their opinions in a way that's legal, that's safe and that does not prevent others from going about their legal and legitimate business. Mr. Pennings is preventing us from going about our business because of the campaign of intimidation and harassment."

However, Australia's former Greens leader Bob Brown disagreed.

He said Adani's legal action would "send a shudder through every Australian who values democracy, free speech and the right to peaceful protest," The Guardian reported.

Ningaloo Reef near Exmouth on April 2, 2012 in Western Australia. James D. Morgan / Getty Images News

By Dana M Bergstrom, Euan Ritchie, Lesley Hughes and Michael Depledge

In 1992, 1,700 scientists warned that human beings and the natural world were "on a collision course." Seventeen years later, scientists described planetary boundaries within which humans and other life could have a "safe space to operate." These are environmental thresholds, such as the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and changes in land use.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A 3-hour special film by EarthxTV calls for protection of the Amazon and its indigenous populations. EarthxTV.org

To save the planet, we must save the Amazon rainforest. To save the rainforest, we must save its indigenous peoples. And to do that, we must demarcate their land.

Read More Show Less


UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres delivers a video speech at the high-level meeting of the 46th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council UNHRC in Geneva, Switzerland on Feb. 22, 2021. Xinhua / Zhang Cheng via Getty Images

By Anke Rasper

"Today's interim report from the UNFCCC is a red alert for our planet," said UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres.

The report, released Friday, looks at the national climate efforts of 75 states that have already submitted their updated "nationally determined contributions," or NDCs. The countries included in the report are responsible for about 30% of the world's global greenhouse gas emissions.

Read More Show Less
New Delhi's smog is particularly thick, increasing the risk of vehicle accidents. SAJJAD HUSSAIN / AFP via Getty Images

India's New Delhi has been called the "world air pollution capital" for its high concentrations of particulate matter that make it harder for its residents to breathe and see. But one thing has puzzled scientists, according to The Guardian. Why does New Delhi see more blinding smogs than other polluted Asian cities, such as Beijing?

Read More Show Less
A bridge over the Delaware river connects New Hope, Pennsylvania with Lambertville, New Jersey. Richard T. Nowitz / Getty Images

In a historic move, the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) voted Thursday to ban hydraulic fracking in the region. The ban was supported by all four basin states — New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania and New York — putting a permanent end to hydraulic fracking for natural gas along the 13,539-square-mile basin, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

Read More Show Less