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No Time for Fools

No Time for Fools

23 September 2016

Oil Free Otago this week calls upon prospective Dunedin City councillors to uphold Dunedin’s growing reputation as a climate leader.

“Dunedin is leading the charge to a low carbon economy with both our City Council and Universityhaving committed to fossil fuel divestment” says Oil Free Otago’s Rosemary Penwarden.

“Meanwhile Simon Bridges and his National government are stuck back in the fossil fuel era, yet again inviting oil companies into our back yard, selling off the rights to drill in our oceans.”

The government this week announced the beginning of consultation with Iwi on the NZ Petroleum and Minerals 2017 Oil and Gas Block Offer, covering 210,884 square kilometres of the Canterbury and Great South Basins.

Consultation with local councils will begin on 17 October. As in previous years ordinary citizens have been shut out of the Block Offer consultation, and so depend on the representation of their elected councillors.

“We were pleased that last year the Dunedin City Council formally opposed the government’s Block Offer” says Ms Penwarden. “Our message to new councillors is: same again, with urgency.”

A new report just published calculates that to meet the Paris Climate Agreement of two degrees of global warming we cannot afford any new oil and gas drilling.

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“Our only hope now is a swift, managed decline in the production of all current oil, gas and coal production. The government is thumbing their nose at their climate commitments. Dunedin voters urgently need to know if our next councillors are going to work to safeguard our future, or sabotage it.”

Oil Free Otago wrote to prospective DCC councillors and so far have received ten replies. Two council hopefuls, Andrew Whiley, spokesman for the industry front group Pro Gas Otago, and Richard O’Mahoney, both support oil and gas exploration and will not oppose the government’s Block Offer, while the other eight (Aaron Hawkins, Scout Barbour-Evans, Dave Cull, Marie Laufoso, Islay McLeod, Steve Walker, Abe Gray and Damian Newell) oppose deep sea drilling. Seven will support a submission opposing the Block Offer while current Mayor Dave Cull will “commit to expressing the views of the Dunedin community as best we can ascertain them. On the last occasion DCC submitted, the overwhelming preponderance of views expressed by the community was opposed to further exploration and extraction.”

Of those councillors standing again this year, Chris Staynes, David Benson-Pope, Aaron Hawkins, Kate Wilson and Dave Cull voted in favour of the DCC divesting its shares in fossil fuel extraction companies last year, while Andrew Whiley, Mike Lord, Doug Hall and Lee Vandervis opposed fossil fuel divestment.

The government has chosen April Fools’ Day 2017 for the new permits to begin, but no oil companies have even bothered to bid for permits in our southern region, some of the most treacherous ocean in the world, since 2013. Last month two oil prospecting companies, ION Geophysical and Houston based TGS, withdrew their prospecting permit applications before they were even approved.

“Come on Dunedin voters, it’s time to grow our reputation and build a fairer, carbon zero future. This is no time for Fools.”


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