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

Patience: Drive Safe

Be patient before passing is the AA's message for drivers this Labour weekend.

"People taking crazy risks to get past other vehicles is one of the most dangerous things on the road,” says AA spokesperson Dylan Thomsen.

“The weather is looking good for the long weekend so the roads will be busy. Unfortunately, that also increases the chances of people getting frustrated and trying a risky passing manoeuvre. When they get past, there will probably be more traffic up ahead anyway so it won’t get people there faster.” More>>

 
 

Parliament Today:

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:

Gordon Campbell: On The Tokenism Of New Zealand's Role Against Islamic State

Our contribution against IS will be to send SAS forces to train the Iraqis? That’s like offering trainers to General Custer just as the 7th cavalry reached the Little Big Horn. More>>

ALSO:

Scoop Business: Shell And Todd Caught Drilling Without Approval

Multi-national oil company Shell’s New Zealand arm and local energy giant Todd Energy have breached the new law governing New Zealand’s Exclusive Economic Zone, the Environmental Protection Authority says in an Oct. 10 document released by the Green Party. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On Pharmac, Gough Whitlam And Sleater-Kinney

We’re not at the outset of these negotiations. The outset was six years ago, and negotiators were hoping to have some sort of ‘framework’ deal finished in time for the APEC meeting in a few weeks’ time. These ‘extreme’ positions are what we’ve reached near the intended end of the negotiations… More>>

ALSO:

PM Of Many Hats: Questions, No Answers On Whale Oil

Dr RUSSEL NORMAN (Co-Leader – Green) to the Prime Minister: How many times since November 2008 has he spoken with blogger Cameron Slater on the phone and how many times, if any, has he texted him?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY (Prime Minister): None in my capacity as Prime Minister. More>>

ALSO:

Aussie Investigation Dropped: Call On Minister McCully To Pursue The Case Of Balibo Five

West Papua Action is deeply concerned at the lack of any clear outcome from the Australian Federal Police inquiry into the 1975 deaths of the ‘Balibo Five’ including NZ journalist Gary Cunningham. More>>

ALSO:

'Feed The Kids' Bill: Metiria Turei To Lead Fight On Feeding Hungry Children

Green Party Co-leader Metiria Turei is urging all political parties to support the Feed the Kids Bill which she inherited today from Mana leader Hone Harawira. More>>

ALSO:

Parliament Today: State Opening Of Parliament

The House sat at 10.30am on Tuesday before MPs were summoned to hear the Speech from the Throne in the Legislative Council Chamber. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 

LATEST HEADLINES

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Politics
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news