The last few weeks and months have seen a series of encouraging wins on the environmental front:
- Victoria has announced a permanent ban on all onshore unconventional gas exploration, including fracking and coal seam gas;
- Shell is planning to sell its assets and exit New Zealand, as part of its target to sell US$30 billion worth of its assets globally by 2018, to arrest mounting debt;
- ION Geophysical has relinquished its oil prospecting permit, the largest ever offshore permit granted, while TGS withdrew its offshore prospecting application;
- NZOG, with partners Tag Oil and Beach Energy, surrendered their nearshore drilling permit off Patea, without drilling the proposed Kaheru-1 well;
- Contact’s combined cycle gas-fired power station in Stratford may close down, due to low usage (only 43 days last year) with the shift to more renewable generation, and if/when the Tiwai Point aluminium smelter closes;
- Landcorp announced its ban on the use of palm kernel expeller (PKE) on its farms from 2017 while Fonterra said it plans to purchase only ‘sustainable palm oil products’ by 2018;
- The High Court has upheld regional councils’ rights to decide whether they want to be free of the effects of genetically modified organisms (GMO), although the government is now considering a law change to confirm EPA’s role in controlling GMO use;
- Forest & Bird has won its Ruataniwha appeal – the Appeal Court has ruled the process used to acquire protected conservation land to flood for the Ruataniwha Dam in Hawke’s Bay was unlawful.
There is little doubt that community resistance and economic circumstances have been working together in favour of the environment and social justice. It’s time to celebrate these victories, take pride and recuperate, so we can remain determined and strong for what lies ahead:
- With Shell pulling out of NZ, other companies are likely to take over. Its long-term partner Todd is one potential buyer. With the completion of STOS’ expansive seismic surveys in South Taranaki, Todd Energy has been concentrating efforts in the Mangahewa field near Tikorangi, involving well repair, fracking and completion operations, a new Mangahewa G wellsite, and plans of a 3D seismic survey over its Mangahewa and McKee permit areas during summer 2016/17. Todd-owned Nova Energy is planning to build a new $100 million worth peaker gas powered station in New Plymouth.
- The Canadian-owned Tag Oil, having relinquished its onshore permits Heatseeker (near Egmont National Park), Sidewinder B (PEP 38748), Waitangi Hill and Boar hill (East Coast), and offshore permits, are focussing efforts on Cheal (water-flooding, workovers & exploratory drilling), Sidewinder (PMP53803 gas lift & liquids production facility) and Puka (with MEO). Several other oil/gas companies remain active around Taranaki.
- Decisions on the Proposed South Taranaki District Plan, following extensive hearings notably on the inadequate rules on oil and gas drilling and landfarming activities (ECOLink p.6-8), are likely to be announced soon. Taranaki Energy Watch needs your support to appeal council’s decisions.
- Get ready to submit and protest against Trans-Tasman Resources (TTR)’s reapplication to mine our seabed. Join KASM.
- On freshwater, Environment Minister Nick Smith blamed birds for polluting some lakes and lagoons and insisted on a “wadeable” bottom line (rather than swimmable). Federated Farmers were quick to reject a blame on intensive agriculture, after more than 5,000 people around Havelock (Hawke’s Bay) have fallen ill from contaminated drinking water, 523 cases of which confirmed as due to campylobacter. Intensive agriculture has not only been enabled by palm kernels importation, but also relies heavily on phosphate imported by Ballance and Ravensdown from Western Sahara and elsewhere, where human rights violations and environmental destruction are rampant.
- Indeed, international trade treaties have serious ramifications and impacts on human rights, health, indigenous rights and the environment. The Trans-Pacific Partnerships (TPP) is just one of “a series of interlocking trade and investment treaties that are opposed by Civil Society… concerns extend far beyond the mechanism of ISDS [Investor-State Dispute Settlement]…” Join the national rally against TPP(A) on Sat 10th Sept, 1pm at Puki Ariki New Plymouth or elsewhere.
Victoria takes the lead in banning unconventional gas (Greenleft, 31 Aug 2016)
GE-free supporters at Whangarei Growers’ market (stuff, 31 Aug 2016)
Rally for Democracy (TPPA Action Group, 26 Aug 2016)