Block the Offer

2016 block offer collage

Greenpeace is running a Block the Offer – Stop Deep Sea Oil campaign, as the NZ government begins its so-called consultation on its 2016 Block Offer for petroleum exploration.  The block offers will open yet another half a million 537,000km² to oil and gas exploration and drilling, mostly offshore, except for nearly 2,000 km² of onshore acreage in Taranaki. For us in Taranaki, it is hard to imagine how more of our precious land and communities can be sacrificed for this grossly exploitative and polluting industry. Meanwhile, Greymouth Petroleum is fighting in court to drill yet another set of wells in the Waitara Valley where a Te Atiawa ancestor was buried.

Over on the East Coast, Tag Oil is about to give up all its petroleum permits because of financial downturn. Competition with renewable energies and fallen coal prices are also driving the closure of the Otahuhu gas power plant and the Huntly coal generators.  Is this why the government is granting almost $10 million to GNS to help the industry look for oil and gas? What are the strings attached to Anadarko, ExxonMobil,  OMV and Shell’s co-financing in this ‘research’ deal?

On the brighter side, the enlightened Christchurch City Council has said no to the 2016 block offer. ECO – Environment and Conservation Organisations of NZ, representing 48 member groups, is calling for a nationwide ban on fracking and an urgent transition onto low-carbon energy systems.

Resistance is building, not just because of the risks of oil spills, impacts on local communities and environment, but more critically – climate change.

It is useful to understand why governments and many commentators continue to give excuses for inaction on climate change. Read Geoff Simons’ blog in Gareth’s World which lists five such excuses and explains why they are wrong.

Encouragingly, even the US president is now calling for an energy revolution:

It’s impossible to overstate what this means. For decades, we’ve been told that it doesn’t make economic sense to switch to renewable energy. Today, that’s no longer true. And you don’t have to take my word for it. Many of our biggest businesses are backing up that fact,” Obama said earlier this month, sparking a string of wins by coalitions of community, environmental and renewable energy industry groups fighting to keep solar power affordable and economically competitive against heavily subsidized fossil fuels.

Map adapted from NZPAM website, 16 Sept 2015.

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