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Council Backs Mobil Boycott

Auckland City Council is encouraging its residents to boycott Mobil until the oil company lowers the sulphur content in its diesel.

Dr Bruce Hucker, the deputy mayor, last night (Thursday, July 12 ) proposed a series of recommendations at the Council’s meeting which add the city’s voice to that of Auckland Regional Council (ARC) in trying to pressure Mobil to join other oil companies to reduce sulphur levels.

Councillors were evenly divided in the debate, with the Mayor, Christine Fletcher, using her casting vote in favour of the recommendation for residents to join the boycott.

Dr Hucker said the decision by Mobil not to lower the sulphur content in its diesel had “serious environmental consequences” for the Auckland region.

He recommended that the Council support and congratulate the ARC in its efforts to get Mobil to reduce the sulphur content.

He was also successful in getting the Council to write to the appropriate ministers, noting the Council’s support and ”encouraging them to bring additional pressure on the oil company, asking them to legislate for a reduced sulphur level, to the same standard as the United States and Australia.”

“The three other major oil companies have acted in a way that is more environmentally responsible by agreeing to a new regime,” said Dr Hucker.

“But because all of the companies need to be in agreement with the change – on account of the common source of the diesel from the Marsden Point refinery – the Mobil decision is even more reprehensible.”

Dr Hucker said air pollution, its health implications and global warming were major environmental issues.

“By thinking globally and acting locally, it is possible to respond to them in ways that are manageable and hopefully cumulative in their effects.”

He said support for the ARC initiative, contacts with central government and encouraging residents to join a boycott until Mobil changes its mind were all contributions to reducing environmental damage and its effects on communities in the Auckland region.

Dr Hucker said his recommendations were suggestions about how Auckland City could use its position to help make a community campaign more effective and improve the regional environment.

The chairman of the ARC, Philip Warren, has led a campaign against Mobil, which has stood apart from the other three major oil companies who are prepared to reduce the sulphur levels of their diesel.

In supporting Mr Warren, Dr Hucker said the diesel the oil companies are importing is the worst in the world in terms of parts per million sulphur content in diesel. In New Zealand it is 3000 parts per million (ppm).

That's six times higher than Australia and the US (500ppm) and almost nine times worse than Europe (350ppm). Even the Philippines, at 2000ppm, puts us to shame, he said.

“Reducing the sulphur level in Auckland's diesel to 1000ppm will remove up to a tonne of particles from the air,” said Dr Hucker.

“That's an environmental and health gain you couldn't make anywhere else in the country and it would take years to achieve 1000ppm nationwide with existing refinery capacity.”


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