A “diddly squat” and the “really chunky hard part”

06/05/2016

bottled water web

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

Read the rest of this entry »


Why the ETS should be axed

19/02/2016
  1. The ETS has not reduced greenhouse gas emissions
  2. The ETS should not be the main policy tool for reducing emissions
  3. The ETS offers perverse subsides to polluters
  4. Carbon credits are permits to pollute and the ETS is little more than a scam
  5. We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them

More on the above, read our submission to the Ministry for the Environment.


Low-skilled fracking jobs, divestment, climate debt and neoliberalism

20/07/2015

As the oil and gas fracking industry spreads across a nation, increasingly high school teens are being lured to drop out and take up low-skilled jobs, as demonstrated in a recent research in the US.  The authors of the study warned, “fracking raises the risk that some workers at the bottom of the skills and education ladder may end up being stuck there, because they made bad schooling choices in a rush to be part of the industry“. Read the rest of this entry »


Fossil fuel economics – a fairy tale

17/04/2015

It is encouraging to hear the World Bank calling for a halt to fossil fuel subsidies and a collective international binding agreement for a zero-carbon world by the end of the century. But how a carbon tax will make this happen remains a big question mark. History has shown us that we cannot rely on big corporations to move away from their old habits and lead the change needed for the better: How BP had invested in low carbon technology for decades just to abandon them for greater economic gains is a typical example.

In the mean time, the fossil fuel industry has been found to be operating dangerously in New Zealand, with over 130 incidents recorded in the last two years while the government continues to push for more drilling. They want us to believe that NZ can get rich on oil like Norway did. But even the Norwegians know: “When we wake up from this oil bubble … we will realise we will never have a fairy tale like this again.”

So let us get off fossil fuels and move on to more sustainable, democratic, decentralised energy systems that benefit communities and the planet. “We need a managed and fair transition, not a massive oil shock which could plunge the already fuel-poor into further hardship and breed economic and social pandemonium. If today’s anti-oil social movements continue to strengthen, this could happen: through pressure from shareholders, the erosion of oil companies’ social licence, the physical disruption of operations by local resistance, the boom in renewable energy, and public pressure on governments to take more decisive climate action”.


Media Highlights – Sept 2014

03/09/2014

Naomi Klein: Fossil fuels threaten our ability to have healthy children (Mother Jones, 29 Sept) – Well worth reading/listening to.

Record profits at Port Taranaki (TDN, 26 Sept) – Note Methanol is produced from gas, onshore and offshore, often requires fracking. TRC is both the regulator of the oil and gas industry and the beneficiary. 

Parihaka could go off the grid (Waatea News, 25 Sept) Read the rest of this entry »


Media highlights (July 2014)

07/07/2014

Failure to deal with ethics will make climate engineering ‘unviable’  (Guardian, 31 July)

Dolphin’s policy costs ‘billions’  (TDN, 31 July) – more unsubstantiated claims and overestimates of the real worth of Taranaki’s oil and gas industry

Dairy farms rigorously monitored (TDN, 29 July) – “Taranaki Regional Council issued 125 abatement notices in the year 2013/2014 for dairy effluent disposal lapses – the most in the country. … “

Dirty dairying offences declining  (TDN, 28 July)  – “17 regional councils successfully prosecuted 21 dairy effluent offences in the year to July 1, resulting in fines of $847,600…”

Greens campaign on clean seas  (TDN, 27 July) – “National Secretary Joe Fleetwood said there had been 35 “near miss” incidents since the Rena grounding in 2011 and it was only a matter of time before another grounding occurs. … Compulsory shipping lanes were already in place in nations including the UK, Norway and Canada. Measures to ensure the oil industry had to pay for any spills and efforts to improve the capability of Maritime New Zealand were also overdue, he said.

River swimming goal undoable  (TDN, 25 July)  – more spins from TRC although “The Green Party has dismissed the new bottom lines as “weak” and argues the measures mean rivers will only have to be clean enough for wading or boating. ”

Why the next climate treaty is vital for my country to survive  (Guardian, 12 July)

A group representing half a billion Christians says it will no longer support fossil fuels  (Climate Progress, 11 July)

No-go areas for seeking oil/gas  (Gisborne Herald, 5 July)

Anadarko’s drill decision by October (Otago Daily Times, 5 July)

Dead whale washes up on beach  (stuff national, 4 July) – a blue whale on Tapuae Beach, Taranaki

Whales flee from military sonar leading to mass strandings, research shows  (Guardian, 3 July)

Oil exploration in Maui Dolphin Protection Zone  (Scoop Politics, 3 July) – Dr Slooten says that having observers on oil survey vessels are “virtually useless” and do very little to protect whales. “Overseas research has shown that observers on the seismic testing ships only see around ten percent of whales and dolphins in the area. … Seismic survey noise can be heard for at least 80 kilometres, but the observers can see whales and dolphins for only one or two kilometres, and then, only when they surface.”

Greens want landfarm inquiry widened  (Radio NZ, 3 July)

Waste water from energy extraction ‘triggers US quake surge’ (BBC, 3 July)


Media highlights: 4-22 April 2014

08/04/2014

Is the U.S. shale boom going bust?  (Bloomberg, 22 April) – “…the average decline of the world’s conventional oil fields is about 5 percent per year. By comparison, the average decline of oil wells in North Dakota’s booming Bakken shale oil field is 44 percent per year. Individual wells can see production declines of 70 percent or more in the first year. Shale gas wells face similarly swift depletion rates, so drillers need to keep plumbing new wells to make up for the shortfall at those that have gone anemic. This creates what Hughes and other critics consider an unsustainable treadmill of ever-higher, billion-dollar capital expenditures chasing a shifting equilibrium. …”

Dairy industry inquiry wanted [by Fish and Game]  (Radio NZ, 19 April)

Sustainable farming granted $9.9 million funding  (NZ Farmers, 18 April)

Fracking-earthquake link may impact insurance policies  (Columbus Business First, 18 April) – “Fracking falls into the “man-made” part of typical earthquake insurance coverage, the same category that includes injection wells. More than one-third of companies polled by the Ohio Insurance Institute in 2012 said their earthquake coverage wouldn’t cover losses from fracking-related movement.”  NZ insurers won’t cover that either.

Fracking study gets [Colorado] House OK  (GJSentinel, 17 April)  – “The bill directs the department of public health and environment to conduct an analysis of human health and quality of life within the counties of Larimer, Weld, Boulder, and Adams with the intent of understanding any possible effects of oil and gas operations on communities within these counties.” NZ should follow suit with focus on Taranaki.

Brian Fallow: Curbing emissions is vital – Any delay could make adjustment to a low-carbon economy more costly  (NZ Herald, 17 April) – An interesting read from an economist’s point of view.

California hydraulic fracturing moratorium bill approved by state senate committee  (Hydraulic fracking blog, 16 April)

Gas finds key to methanol peak  (TDN, 16 April)

What to do if oil and gas companies come calling  (Wairarapa Times-Age, 16 April) – Federated Farmers’ reasonable advice

EPA drastically underestimates methane released at drilling sites (Los Angeles Times, 14 April) – This again debunks the notion that natural gas is a clean, transition energy – it is not, because of the huge amount of fugitive gas, none of which is being accounted for here in NZ.

Ohio geologists link small quakes to fracking  (AP, 11 April) – “Under Ohio’s new permit conditions, all new drilling sites within 3 miles of a known fault or seismic activity of 2.0 magnitude or higher will be conditioned on the installation of sensitive seismic-monitoring equipment. Results will be directly available to regulators, Simmers said, so the state isn’t reliant on drilling operators providing the data voluntarily. If seismic activity of 1.0 magnitude or greater is felt, drilling will be paused for evaluation. If a link is found, the operation will be halted.”  No such regulation in NZ.

Greens want ‘land farm’ meat tested for contamination  (TV NZ One News, 11 April) Food Safety Minister Nikki Kaye says there is no evidence of any risk, and “Milk testing is a lot quicker, sheep and beef testing would require huge control samples, it would take a lot longer and I think we should only do that if we actually see something showing up in the milk …” In stark contrast, in 2010, Pennsylvanian Agriculture Secretary quarantined 20 cows for 6 months and 8 calves for 2 years after suspected ingestion of drilling waste, for fear of contaminated meat.

DEP issues Chevron nine citations in fatal gas well blast  (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 10 April) – “In addition to the violation for not allowing access, the state cited Chevron for seven violations for failure to operate a well properly and failure to prevent venting of gas, and a violation for a discharge of well production fluids onto the ground.” Yet TRC routinely issues consent for the discharge of “treated produced water” onto land and into tributaries.

Minister didn’t know park was in drilling plan  (3 News, 8 April)

Report shows 61 dangerous petroleum incidents  (3 News, 7 April) – Must watch!

Maps leave pa beset on all sides  (Wanganui Chronicle, 4 April)  – quoted cjt media release on new block offers