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Oil Event slammed as “PR Stunt” by Dunedinites

Oil Event slammed as “PR Stunt” by Dunedinites

Oil Free Otago have slammed New Zealand Petroleum and Minerals (NZPAM) for skipping crucial democratic steps in consulting with the public over oil and gas exploration, and labelled the event “a PR Stunt”.

This evening, New Zealand Petroleum and Minerals held a meeting at Araiteuru Marae to explain and answer questions on aspects of the Government's regulatory regime for petroleum and minerals exploration and production. This meeting pre-empts the vital stages before it; asking and correctly educating the Dunedin community what type of energy expansion options and economic opportunities there are in our neighbourhood. Oil Free Otago demands this base-assumption; that oil and gas is the only exploration option, is put under the spotlight.

“At no point were Dunedinites asked if this is the direction that we want to see our energy development to go” asks Oil Free Otago spokesperson Danielle Trilford. “Rather than asking the initial, primary and basic questions to help shape energy expansion paths, Dunedinites were only allowed to hear about the already set-in-place regulations for exploration and production of oil and gas.”

Representatives from New Zealand Petroleum and Minerals, Environmental Protection Authority, Maritime New Zealand, WorkSafe New Zealand, Ministry for the Environment, the Department of Conservation and the Otago Regional Council were in attendance. Critical questions came from the Head of Finance and Business at the University of Otago, Professor Colin Campbell Hunt, who asked ‘Who bears the financial cost of an incident?’. Other questions included challenges about the upcoming 2014 block offers, where more of New Zealand's land and sea than ever before will be opened up for exploration by global fossil fuel companies.

“When will these local and nationwide authorities address the blatant urgency to stop fossil fuel expansion, and move to future-proofed and economically-stronger clean energy options?” asked Oil Free Otago spokesperson Danielle Trilford.

“This is not about current oil and gas extraction in New Zealand, nor is it about the use of fossil fuels - this is about the expansion of these last centuries industries.” said Ms Trilford.

“New Zealanders deserve the democratic right to know that they have options for energy expansion, rather than have the regulations of a pre-decided expansion regime shoved down their throats.” explained Oil Free Otago Spokesperson Danielle Trilford.

Six government agencies, together with regional and district councils, share the responsibility for managing petroleum and mineral activities in New Zealand.

“Considering the oil and gas exploration regime is served to the Otago community without the chance of weighing up the types of options we have, does the public really believe they'll have a say in the remaining fine-grained regulations around it? This is nothing more than a PR stunt so they can tick a box to say they’re “engaging with all stakeholders”” says Oil Free Otago spokesperson Danielle Trilford.


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