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Nothing to stop oil disaster in New Zealand waters

14 December 2010

Nothing to stop oil disaster in New Zealand waters

There needs to be a moratorium on all new offshore petroleum permits and existing permits cancelled until proper environmental, safety and public consultation processes are in place, said the Green Party today.

Energy and Resources Minister Gerry Brownlee today released the findings of a review of health, safety and environmental legislation for offshore petroleum operations, which states that New Zealand lacks an environmental permitting regime in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

“The review’s recommendations make it clear that the Government has been careless in its enthusiasm to make it easier for petroleum companies to explore in New Zealand,” Dr Kennedy Graham, Green Party Energy spokesperson said today.

Minister Brownlee granted permits for exploratory oil drilling earlier this year without any consideration of environmental impacts.

“The review demonstrates that a mechanism comparable to the RMA is needed, in which all applications can be publicly scrutinised, contested and subject to judicial review.

“Such a mechanism cannot be fairly developed and implemented when permits have already been issued and private companies are able to manipulate the process.

“Permits granted earlier this year should be cancelled and no new ones granted until robust regulations are in place.”

Dr Graham said New Zealand needed robust environmental legislation to protect the integrity of the EEZ from oil companies whose economic incentive was to cut corners and increase profits rather than look after fisheries and shorelines.

“John Key's Government has failed to learn the lesson from the Deep Water Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Even with the most advanced capabilities at your doorstep, a laissez-faire attitude is a recipe for disaster.

“New Zealand’s prosperity in the future will depend on investment in clean, green technology and sustainable jobs, not opening our shores to foreign companies to exploit a 19th century resource,” Dr Graham said.

ENDS

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