This morning, members from Climate Justice Taranaki spoke to the Local Government and Environment Select Committee on the government’s proposed Resource Legislation Amendment Bill. The four key points were:
- The effects on CLIMATE CHANGE must be at the heart of every resource management decision, if the goal is to truly manage natural resources sustainably and protect our natural environment. Currently, the RMA and EEZ Act prohibit councils and the EPA from considering the effects of activities on climate change. CJT urge that these be amended, as the government has a legal obligation and duty of care to protect its citizens from climate change.
- The proposed Bill takes away councils’ function in preventing and mitigating any adverse effects of the storage, use, disposal or transportation of HAZARDOUS SUBSTANCES. This is an extremely dangerous proposition as it eliminates what could protect local communities from well blow-out, gas clouds and other harmful accidents associated with the fossil fuel and other heavy industries.
- Fracking is known to contaminate water, soil, cause serious health effects, induce earthquakes and exacerbates climate change. CJT urge for a nationwide ban on FRACKING and a halt on all fossil fuel exploration.
- The proposed Bill erodes ENVIRONMENTAL BOTTOM LINES, dis-empowers the public and threatens democratic processes when it should be strengthening environmental protection and ensuring resource sustainability and public rights in decision making.
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The recent Radio NZ interview with Environment Minister Nick Smith offered some interesting insights into the current government’s view and approach to the management of water.
Many argue that water is the most valuable and contestable natural resource of the 21st century. According to the United Nations, forty-one countries experienced water stress in 2011; ten of them are close to depleting their supply of renewable freshwater and must now rely on non-conventional sources. By 2050, at least one in four people worldwide are likely to be affected by recurring water shortages.
New Zealand is blessed with rich water resources, some 500 trillion litres of it flowing through our lakes, rivers and aquifers. Yet not every region is as ‘rich’, and even the ‘rich’ regions can be ‘poor’ at times.
In the interview, the Minister was adamant on two points:
- No one owns water
- No price will be put on water
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“The government’s announcement to open up a further 525,515km2 of land and sea to oil and gas exploration is total madness. It is completely irresponsible for the government to open up more areas to oil and gas exploration” says Urs Signer, a member of Climate Justice Taranaki.
“Onshore, most of the Taranaki region is now covered in permits and open to bidders. Offshore, everything is up for grabs, including 2,600km2 of the critically endangered Maui’s Dolphin sanctuary.”
“Today’s block offer comes just days after the announcement that February 2016 was the hottest month since records began. Words fail us. We have to leave fossil fuels in the ground and immediately transition to a low-carbon economy. We owe this to our planet, the fellow species we share this amazing place with and to future generations of humans.” Read the rest of this entry »
The govt is consulting the public on their freshwater policy. Come to the meeting this Monday 21st March, 12 noon at the Quality hotel in New Plymouth. Details on Ministry for the Environment website.
It is WOMAD weekend in New Plymouth again – a time to celebrate the World of Music, Arts and Dance, to promote cross-cultural awareness and tolerance. How wonderful!
There is just one problem, Shell and Todd Energy are two main sponsors of WOMAD in NZ.
The two companies, individually or jointly, have drilled and extracted oil and gas from numerous wells around Taranaki. To name a few, Todd Energy’s Mangahewa wellsites in Tikorangi have been drilled, redrilled, fracked, and fracked again recently. Shell Todd Oil Services (STOS) has been busy seismic blasting many farms in South Taranaki for months, in search of any remaining oil or gas in and around the Kapuni field. Last year Shell got another 35 year consent to continue its drilling, extracting and discharging wastes from the aging Maui gas field offshore. With the low oil prices, Shell is now reviewing its operations in NZ, despite its firm statement last year that it’s here for the long haul.
Some might ask: Could their sponsorships and Shell’s zero waste promotion at WOMAD be simply greenwashing opportunities for the companies, or an investment for their social license to continue operation here?
We say: Yes to sustainable festivals and climate justice, Yes to WOMAD, but NO to fossil fuel company sponsorships”!
Did you hear this? DOC (Department of Conservation) warns that the RMA changes may prevent them from doing their job We borrow one of our members’ submission on the Resource Resource Legislation Amendment Bill (RLAB), to explain why:
The Bill, written in its current form, is not fit for purpose other than to allow ‘development’ and other activities to go through with little if any safeguards for the environment and sustainability, to give the Minister power above local authorities, and to take away the basic democratic rights of the public. More specifically, I object to the following clauses or parts of the RLAB:
1. Clauses 11 and 12 which take away councils’ responsibilities over hazardous substances.
2. Clause 27 which allows a rule or resource consents to be more lenient than a national environmental standard (NES).
3. The entire concept and process of “fast-track application” and all the clauses that pertain to this, including but not limited to clauses 121, 125 and 151.
4. The use of the term “less than minor” in describing the adverse effects of an activity when assessing consent applications, without clearly defining it.
5. Clause 105 which introduces 360D to the RMA to give over-riding power to the Minister.
6. Clause 120 which gives a hearing authority the power to strike out submissions.
7. Clause 125 which further restricts the scope of ‘limited notification’, to the extent that even the Department of Conservation has warned that they would not be able to perform their statutory duties.
8. Clause 188 which introduces to the EEZ-Continental Shelf Act mandatory boards of inquiry appointed by the Minister, presumably with power over-riding that of the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA).
Climate Justice Taranaki’s submission explains the above in detail and proposes new clauses that would strengthen rather than weaken the current legislation, notably including the consideration of climate change in consent applications.
Submission closes today 5pm 14 March 2016 on Parliament website.
The new Marine Protected Areas (MPA) Act excludes the entire EEZ, continental shelf and all areas under petroleum and mineral licenses, from MPA consideration. The Ministers say this is to give certainty to industries, but what about certainty for future generations to have a healthy ocean to thrive on? Please tell the government what you think. Send submissions by email to firstname.lastname@example.org before this Friday 11 March 5pm. Be sure to include “MPA Act consultation”, your name, address, tel and email. Alternatively use Forest & Birds’ online form. Below are our key points you may like to cover in yours.
Key Points of CJT Submission
- Climate Justice Taranaki Inc. (CJT) welcome a reform of marine protected areas legislation.
- The new Marine Protected Areas (MPA) Act places economic growth well above environmental conservation and ignores the fact that the so-called ‘balance’ has long been tipped.
- The Act must include the entire marine areas of New Zealand, including territorial seas, the Exclusive Economic Zone and continental shelf (EEZ-CS), to be fit for purpose.
- Areas under petroleum and mineral licenses should not be excluded from MPA consideration. There cannot possibly be a representative and adaptive network of MPAs when the EEZ and all licensed areas are excluded.
- The foundation and emphasis of the Act should be full protection of marine areas with significant conservation values, as ensured under the Marine Reserve Act.
- The regulations and management of other MPAs, notably existing marine mammal sanctuaries and the proposed seabed reserves, require substantial strengthening to offer adequate species protection and opportunities for recovery of threatened species or communities.
- Recreational fishing parks do not enhance, protect or restore marine biodiversity and ought not be introduced into the MPA Act. Conflicts between recreational and commercial fisheries are best managed under the Fisheries Act.
- CJT support meaningful recognition of the Treaty of Waitangi and customary rights and values in the Act.
Read this media story: Anton Van Heldon: Govt failing in duty to marine life (NZ Herald, 8/03/2016)