When logic and environmental stewardship fails, hit them where it hurts

Mobil tank farm by Richard Robinson

Earlier this year, the publicly owned Waterfront Auckland was ordered to pay Mobil nearly $1 million, after losing the High Court battle trying to get Mobil pay for environmental damages. Mobil and several other companies had leased the land for decades, their activities contaminated prime coastal land. The judge ruled that Mobil did not have the contractual obligation to decontaminate the land!  (Photo by Richard Robinson)

Yesterday, the NZ Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) was hammered by the mining industry for the ‘expensive’ consent processes under the EEZ Act and for refusing two seabed mining proposals. The criticism was loud enough for EPA to “feel guilty about charging people between $1 million and $2 million for a piece of paper…” For context, $1M would not go much further than two day’s spending for an oil company. Still, OMV’s legal manager responded, “…we can’t simply go on saying ‘well, it’s is bumpy and it’s difficult and it’s going to take time’ because we may as well say to the international investment community ‘I’m sorry it’s quite bumpy and difficult here, please don’t come’.”

Well, what’s wrong with telling the mining industry not to come?  This is exactly what NZ should be saying really.

Look at Guardian – the media group has just announced its 800 million pound of divestment from fossil fuels – the “largest fund yet known to pull out of coal, oil and gas companies in a move chair Neil Berkett calls a ‘hard-nosed business decision’ justified on ethical and financial grounds”. The way to go!

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