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

'Tea Break Bill' Passes: Gordon Campbell On Bad Labour Laws And Poor Safety

By co-incidence, one of the prime dangers of the government’s new employment relations law has been underlined by the release of the death and injury statistics among workers at New Zealand ports. These are highly profitable enterprises for the port owners.

The Port of Tauranga for instance, is expecting its current full-year profit to be between $78 million and $83 million and other ports are enjoying similar boom times – but they are also highly dangerous places for the people who work on or around the port premises. At the Port of Tauranga, there have been 26 serious accidents since 2011, and two deaths. More>>

 

Parliament Today:

No Charges: Outcome Of Operation Clover Investigation

Police have completed a multi-agency investigation, Operation Clover, into the activities of a group calling themselves “The Roast Busters”. The 12 month enquiry focused on incidents involving allegations of sexual offending against a number of girls in the Waitemata Police district and wider Auckland area... More>>

ALSO:

UNICEF Report: NZ Cautioned On "Stagnating" Child Poverty

An international report by UNICEF has found that child poverty rates in New Zealand have barely changed since 2008, despite similar sized countries significantly reducing child poverty during the recent recession. More>>

ALSO:

Funding Report: Two Pathways For Transport In Auckland

Commissioned by Auckland Council, the group was asked to investigate two possible pathways for raising $300 million per year ($12 billion over 30 years) to pay for the improvements needed to help fix Auckland’s transport system. More>>

ALSO:

Pay Equity: Equal Pay Win In Court Of Appeal

CTU: The Court of Appeal has made a historic decision paving the way for a substantial equal pay claim for aged care workers. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The TPP Finishing Line, And Amazon’s Woes

If the Trans Pacific Partnership trade deal wasn’t such a serious matter, this would be pretty funny… More>>

ALSO:

TV3 Video: Three Die On Roads Over Labour Weekend

The official holiday period ended at 6am Tuesday, with three deaths on the roads during the Labour Day weekend. More>>

Employment Relations Bill: Govt Strains To Get Tea Break Law Through

The Government has been left with egg on its face - failing to get its much-vaunted, but hugely unpopular, meal break law passed in the first week of its new term, Labour spokesperson on Labour Issues Andrew Little says. More>>

ALSO:

Guns: Police Association Call To Arm Police Full Time

"The new minister gave his view, that Police do not need to be armed, while standing on the forecourt of parliament. The dark irony was that the interview followed immediately after breaking news of a gunman running amok in the Canadian parliament in Ottawa..." More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 

LATEST HEADLINES

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Politics
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news