Environmentalists say it is vital a national Clean Air Agreement recognises the Hunter region as an air pollution priority. A Commowealth discussion paper has just been released which makes specific mention of air pollution problems being experienced in the Hunter. But John Mackenzie from the Hunter Community Environment Centre said the paper fails to mention the word 'coal' and its impacts.
"What this represents for us is a critical moment for the Hunter Valley in particular to be recognised as a national air pollution priority," he said.
"What we have in the Hunter Valley is consistently air pollution that exceeds world health standards.
"That needs to be recognised if this national air pollution agreement is going to be meaningful at all.
"If it doesn't identify the Hunter Valley, if it doesn't work for the Hunter Valley then it won't work for anywhere else."
Mr Mackenzie said coal should have been specifically identified.
"We did a word search in that document for the word coal and that didn't appear," he said.
"What it did say was the Hunter Valley has raised concerns.
"I think we need to call it.
"I think we need to say the reason why there are air pollution issues in the Hunter Valley is because of the mining, the burning and the haulage of coal."