Press Release: At Shell-EPA hearing Climate Justice Taranaki urge for no more drilling

02/10/2017

Shell Taranaki Ltd. (formerly STOS) has applied to the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) for consents to use a jack-up rig for drilling at the Maui gas field and to discharge harmful chemicals at sea.

At the public hearings in New Plymouth, Climate Justice Taranaki will ask that the applications be declined.

Shell has not done any proper assessment of the cumulative effects on the environment and viability of threatened species, should the proposals get approved. Shell’s analysis has been far too narrow,” said Catherine Cheung, member of Climate Justice Taranaki.

Kaschner et al 2011 marine mammal hotspots

“It turns out South Taranaki Bight is a global diversity hotspot for marine mammals, one of the two richest such places on earth. As a party to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (UNCBD), New Zealand has a clear international obligation to protect these species. Yet we are not treating the area with the respect it deserves, more like a sacrificial zone,” added marine scientist Dr. Lyndon DeVantier.

There are at least seven threatened marine mammal species in South Taranaki Bight, six of which are endangered, including the Maui dolphin and blue whale. These are increasingly impacted by a wide array of human activities there, from fishing to maritime traffic, oil and gas seismic surveys, drilling and waste discharge, and now EPA has also decided to allow seabed mining.

Slooten cumulative effects on marine mammal 2017

 “All this is on top of the rapid changes to the ecosystem being driven by climate change, causing increasing sea temperatures, ocean acidification and related impacts on productivity. The science tells us that these will all get worse in coming decades, not better, and any additional impacts, including from what Shell proposes, could push these already threatened species over the edge. It certainly won’t help them to recover, which is what we are supposed to be doing,” Dr DeVantier continued.

We are at the tipping point of a major climate catastrophe, yet the EEZ Act and the RMA do not allow the consideration of climate change in decision making. This is absurd.  The law must, and ultimately will change. In the meantime, communities are rising up against fossil fuel mining, like the farming village of Bentley in the Northern Rivers of Australia,” said Cheung.

This successful resistance is documented in the movie ‘The Bentley Effect’, presently touring New Zealand. Details of local screenings in Taranaki (2-3 Oct), Whanganui, Palmeston North, Wellington and the South Island are available here.

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Media coverage:

EPA hearing into Maui jack-up rig begins (Taranaki Daily News, 2 Oct 2017)

Submissions against Shell drilling to be heard (Newstalk ZB, 3 Oct 2017)

The Bentley Effect (Radio NZ, 3 Oct 2017)

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Media release: STOS oil drilling must stop

20/06/2017

Climate Justice Taranaki are calling on submitters to once again tell Shell Todd Oil Services(STOS)to stop drilling for oil and gas in the South Taranaki Bight – home and feeding ground to many marine mammals including the Maui’s dolphin and the Blue Whale. A submission form is available on their website at http://www.climatejusticetaranaki.info/stop-stos

At 5pm Monday 19 June submissions close on STOS’ consent applications to bring in a jack-up rig to the Maui gas platforms that will drill 22 more wells and discharge harmful substances at sea. STOS says it is too early to tell the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) and the public what chemicals will be discharged. EEZ law, under which EPA acts, cannot stop incomplete consent applications.

“These companies are not seeing the writing on the wall. To be straight up the government and fossil fuel companies just need to be told again and again that the fossil fuel age is over and climate change must be considered. The oil and gas industry is a dying industry that’s taking the whole planet with it” says Climate Justice spokesperson Emily Bailey.

STOS will later apply for an additional marine discharge consent to cover other harmful substance discharges – the public will not be notified on this. “They are plying the old ploy of gaining consent bit by bit so a proper assessment of cumulative impacts cannot be made. This approach makes it harder to turn down new consents once existing ones are granted. What makes it worse, is just this week laws on marine discharge consenting were repealed leaving gaping holes in legislation just when we need them most” said Bailey.

STOS still haven’t confirmed what rig they may use – which vary a lot in size, range and disturbance of the seabed. They haven’t confirmed what operational and drilling chemicals they will use, many of which can be eco-toxins, biocides or carcinogens. STOS should be ashamed. This is consent by stealth. A company that damages the planet with its product and at all stages of its operations should no longer be able to operate in this day and age. It’s time for the fossil fool industry to move on” said Bailey.

A consent was granted in 2015 for STOS to re-drill wells in the Maui field for another 35 years despite the company admitting that they don’t expect more than 20 years of production. Shell has started to sell their NZ assets but there is no culturally and environmentally acceptable decommissioning plan for these sites nor sufficient insurance in place for any major accidents.

It is a well-known scientific fact that to avert runaway climate change we must stop extracting fossil fuels now. We have renewable technologies and sustainable agriculture methods to replace fossil fuels. The industry is getting more desperate. We should give them the final boot rather than putting our very future at risk by bending legislation to suit them and being left to clean up their mess when the waning boom hits bust” concluded Bailey.

Media coverage:

Climate Justice spokesperson Emily Bailey, Waatea News 19 June 2017


Press release: CJT call for independent investigation on the risks of extreme weather and earthquakes on aging oil and gas infrastructure

25/11/2016
maari_platform-image-source-caprari

Source: Caprari

Climate Justice Taranaki says an independent investigation is critical to determine the cause and extent of damage on the OMV Maari oil platform and associated infrastructure, and to assess the risks of aging oil and gas installations failing.

Wild weather and heightened earthquake risk have prompted OMV to evacuate its staff off the Maari oil platform where a crack was discovered during a scheduled underwater check. Read the rest of this entry »


Government’s ludicrous petroleum proposal

22/09/2016
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NZPAM website, 21 September 2016

The New Zealand government has just proposed to release half a million square kilometres of our land and sea to petroleum exploration.

The Taranaki Basin offer encompassed a third of the West Coast Marine Mammal Sanctuary, designated for the protection of the nearly extinct Maui’s Dolphin. The government says this has been re-introduced due to commercial interest in the area”.

So rather than upholding New Zealand’s international obligation to protect endangered species and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, the government does what corporations want – providing a stable and predictable regime”.   Read the rest of this entry »


New MPA Act gives certainty to industries but not to future generations

09/03/2016
Poor knight reserve first light travel nzpam maps combined

Poor Knight Island Reserve from First Light Travel. Maps from NZPAM.

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 mpaconsultation@mfe.govt.nz 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

  1. Climate Justice Taranaki Inc. (CJT) welcome a reform of marine protected areas legislation.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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)


Media release: No STOS Maui Appeal but CJT mission lives on

24/06/2015

Climate Justice Taranaki (CJT) will not file an appeal on the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA)’s decision to grant Shell Todd Oil Services a 35 year consent to expand its operations at the Maui gas field.

This is in no way an endorsement of EPA’s decision. Legal opinion we have received indicates that there are arguments on which we could appeal on a point of law.

During the submission and hearing processes, we articulated strongly to the Decision Making Committee the extensive scientific, logical and ethical grounds on which to substantially limit the consent duration, to require a bond and indemnity insurance and to develop a decommissioning plan. None of these were included. How can the Ministry of Environment possibly claim that EPA is being too precautionary?” asked Catherine Cheung, Climate Justice Taranaki.

As the recent performance reviews on EPA pointed out, a large number of staff don’t know what the organisation’s mission is. Many also believe that EPA exists to support applicants, ministers or decision making committees, not the public which it is ultimately accountable to.

No wonder the current political climate and ‘justice’ system are so hostile to us and others who want change for public good,” said Cheung.

Given the high costs and how weak and disjointed current environmental laws are, we decided not to appeal, but to regroup, gather forces and continue our work. Our mission is to change the system to one that speaks truth to power, recognizes the limits of our planet, and empowers communities to become sustainable and resilient to the impacts of climate change,” concluded Emily Bailey, Climate Justice Taranaki.

Sources:

http://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/morningreport/audio/201759678/scathing-reports-of-the-epa

http://www.mfe.govt.nz/node/20752/


STOS drilling permit reckless

05/06/2015

“It is aFeatured image real disappointment that the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) decided to grant Shell-Todd Oil Services (STOS) the full 35 years consent for more drilling, extraction, dumping and other damaging activities at the Maui gas field off the Taranaki coast” says Emily Bailey, member of Climate Justice Taranaki. “To allow more drilling from the aging wells – many of which have already passed their ‘best before’ dates – is reckless. Despite our detailed submission, the EPA did not insist on a bond that would ensure that wells are maintained, suspended and abandoned in a safe manner. There is also no condition requiring a decommissioning plan or liability insurance should something go seriously wrong.” Read the rest of this entry »