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Environment Commissioner condemns regulation of oil and gas

4 June 2014

Environment Commissioner condemns Govt’s regulation of oil and gas

New Zealand’s independent environmental watchdog has condemned the Government’s regulation of the oil and gas industry by calling it inadequate, the Green Party said today.

In her final fracking report released today, Environmental Commissioner Dr Jan Wright says:

“At the end of my interim report in 2012, I made a commitment to evaluating whether government oversight and regulation of oil and gas production in New Zealand is adequate for managing the environmental risks of the industry. Even without the potential for rapid growth, I have not found it to be adequate.” (p 6, emphasis added)

“I would not want this report to be interpreted as me giving a big tick to the expansion of oil and gas industry in New Zealand, because the biggest issue is not local environmental effect, but the global effect of climate change. From my perspective as Environment Commissioner, I would much rather see a bigger focus on ‘green growth’ in this country.” (p 8)

“New Zealand’s independent environmental watchdog has said today that the National Government’s regulation of the oil and gas industry is inadequate to protect the environment,” said Green Party energy spokesperson Gareth Hughes.

“This report makes a mockery of Energy Minister Simon Bridges claims that we have world class regulation of the oil and gas industry in New Zealand. The Environment Commissioner has concluded we don’t.

“This report vindicates the concerned residents of Taranaki who have worried about the wells being drilled and fracked next to their homes and schools.

“The Green Party is calling on the Government to take a safety-first approach and put a halt on fracking. Fracking is allowing the massive expansion of the oil and gas industry for which the rules and regulations are currently inadequate to protect people and the environment.

“The National Government claimed to be addressing the issue of inadequate oversight and regulation of fracking by publishing fracking guidelines earlier this year, but the Environment Commissioner has shown this to be greenwash.

“The Commissioner says that most councils are unprepared for the expansion of the oil and gas industry and says, ‘unfortunately, the Guidelines report published recently by the Ministry for the Environment does little to assist.’ (p 75).

“This report clearly shows that the Government’s petroleum agenda is putting the environment and communities at risk.

“The Government must urgently implement the Commissioner’s recommendations to improve regulations, but better yet, we can avoid all the risks of the oil and gas sector if we move to renewables and harness the power of the sun and wind,” said Mr Hughes.

ENDS

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