Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | News Video | Crime | Employers | Housing | Immigration | Legal | Local Govt. | Maori | Welfare | Unions | Youth | Search

 


Environment Commissioner urges regulation on oil and gas

4 June 2014

Environment Commissioner urges New Zealand to “get ahead of the game” on an expanding oil and gas industry

The Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment has found regulation in New Zealand is not adequate for managing the environmental risks of oil and gas drilling, especially if the industry expands beyond Taranaki.

In her 2012 report into fracking, Commissioner Dr Jan Wright found that much of the concern about fracking was associated with the expansion of the industry. The technique of hydraulic fracturing – fracking – could be used to extract ‘unconventional’ oil and gas from many parts of the country outside Taranaki. In some parts of the United States and Australia, this has led to oil and gas wells multiplying so rapidly that regulators have found themselves “scrambling to catch up”.

Exploration wells are being drilled into the shale of the East Coast Basin – near Dannevirke, near Gisborne, and soon in Hawke’s Bay, said Dr Wright. The shale in this part of the country has been compared with the Bakken and Eagle Ford rock formations in the United States where the number of wells has proliferated in just a few years.

Dr Wright said that there are some deficiencies in the way the industry is managed in Taranaki, but beyond that, some fresh thinking is needed.

“The East Coast Basin is very different to Taranaki in a number of relevant ways, apart from the difference in rock formations”.

“The region is drier and very reliant on a number of key aquifers. There are major known earthquake faults, so wells would be more vulnerable to damage from seismic activity, and therefore more likely to leak into groundwater. Increasingly, the region identifies itself as a producer of premium food, and there would be conflicts between this and a mushrooming oil and gas industry”.

Dr Wright has made six recommendations in the report. They are:

• The Government should develop a national policy statement paying particular attention to ‘unconventional’ oil and gas.

• Revision of regional council plans should include better rules for dealing with oil and gas wells. Most council plans do not even distinguish between drilling for water and drilling for oil and gas.

• Wells need to be designed to minimise the risk of leaking into aquifers.

• Processes around who pays if something goes wrong need to be improved. Abandoned wells need to be monitored – the older a well is, the more likely it is to leak.

• Regulations on hazardous substances at well sites need to be better enforced.

• The disposal of waste from wells by spreading it on farmland needs review. There have been instances of farm animals grazing these areas before the breakdown of hydrocarbons is complete.

Although she has found that the local environmental impacts of oil and gas drilling can be managed, Dr Wright said that she does not want the report to be seen as giving a big tick to the expansion of the industry in New Zealand.

“I would much rather see a focus on ‘green growth’ because my major concern is the impact of the burning of fossil fuels on the global climate.”

A copy of the report can be viewed here. A copy of the Q & A’s can be viewed here.

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

 

Parliament Today:

The Kids: OECD Report Shows Huge Impact Of Poverty On Education

A new report from the OECD has again highlighted the negative effects of poverty, showing that disadvantaged children in New Zealand are more than six times more likely to underachieve in maths than children from wealthier homes. More>>

ALSO:

Pacific: NZ Pledges $500,000 To Help Address Zika

“With the Zika virus now confirmed in a number of Pacific countries, New Zealand is committed to helping limit the impact and spread of the virus in the region,” says Mr McCully. “New Zealand will provide $250,000 as a contribution to the WHO to implement the Pacific Zika Action Plan, and a further $250,000 to enable countries in the region to respond rapidly if required." More>>

ALSO:

Labour: Police Commissioner 'Doesn’t Get Force Needs'

The Police Commissioner has let down the public and his own force by insisting the police have what they need despite it taking a year to solve a burglary and overwhelming number of officers saying they are under-resourced, says Labour’s Police spokesman Stuart Nash. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The US Pressure To Expand Our Role In Iraq

Foreign news services are being more forthcoming about what the “next 12 months” will entail – essentially, the defence ministers will be under US pressure to increase their “training” role preparatory to an assault on the city of Mosul in northern Iraq. More>>

ALSO:

Parliament Restarts: Prime Minister’s Statement

Our policy agenda and legislative programme will reflect the Government’s four priorities: • to responsibly manage the Government’s finances • to build a more competitive and productive economy • to deliver better public services to New Zealanders, an • to support the rebuilding of Christchurch. More>>

ALSO:

NZEI Survey Report: Special Needs Students Missing Out

The survey revealed that around 16 percent of students were on schools’ special needs registers, but nearly 90 percent of schools’ special needs coordinators did not believe there was adequate support for students and their learning... More>>

ALSO:

Interim Report: Waitangi Tribunal On Ture Whenua Legislation

Labour on Proposed changes to Maori land rules: “To have Treaty Negotiations Minister Chris Finlayson dismiss findings as ‘bizarre’ is totally disingenuous and disrespectful. What’s bizarre is Maori Development Minister Te Ururoa Flavell stubbornly pushing through this Bill before the Waitangi Tribunal has even completed its report..." More>>

ALSO:

Spy Update: Appointment Of GCSB Acting Director

GCSB Chief Legal Advisor Lisa Fong will become the Acting Director of the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) from 15 February 2016, Minister Responsible for the GCSB Christopher Finlayson announced today. More>>

Get More From Scoop

 

LATEST HEADLINES

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Politics
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news