Home > A Little Blue Marble Called Earth, The Body Politic > Green Party action on deep-sea drilling

Green Party action on deep-sea drilling

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Deepwater Horizon and Rena Stranding

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The Green Party is considering  further action on the problematic issue of deep-sea drilling of our coasts.  Environmental spokesperson on Mining and Toxics, Gareth Hughes writes,

The Government is currently taking bids from oil companies to explore 189,000 square kilometres of our coastal waters.

The Government should know that Kiwis don’t want their beaches threatened by the risks of oil drilling, so we’ve set up a competing bid, the Kiwibid to allow Kiwis to voice their opposition to these plans.

If you’re ready to take action on deep sea oil drilling, join me for a live online Q and A session about what’s happening and how you can help. Join the Q and A session to discuss ways to encourage New Zealanders to sign up to the Kiwibid, and find out other ways we can work together to stop oil drilling.

When: Next Wednesday, 26 June at 8:00pm
Where: At your computer, live and online
Watch the livestream online:   Here

If you have questions about deep sea oil drilling and how you can help, I would love to hear them.

Email me your questions (kiwibid@greens.org.nz) then tune in to see the answers.

Thanks, and I hope you can join me next Wednesday.

Gareth Hughes

Deep sea drilling is an issue – and potential crisis – that I believe has not yet filtered into the public consciousness (too much bloody X Factor, Seven Sharp, and cooking porn on TV).   Should a worst case scenario come to pass,  our coastline could end up facing a crisis surpassing that of the Gulf of Mexico disaster in 2010.

Consider for a moment  that it took the most technologically advanced nation on this planet; with almost unlimited resources and wealth; nearly three months  to cap the oil gush.

This was my suggestion to the Green Party on this problematic issue,

Like many New Zealanders, I’ve taken the stranding of the m.v. Rena on 11 October 2011, and the subsequent oil spill,  as a clear warning that New Zealand is incapable of containing such a disaster. Regardless of the mealy-mouthed reassurances by National ministers (none of whom have soiled their own hands to help clean the East Coast beaches of Rena’s oil), it’s fairly evident that if we couldn’t cope with the Rena – then a Deepwater Horizon type disaster would be utterly beyond our resources.

An oil spill of Deepwater Horizon proportions – which took the Americans EIGHTYSEVEN days to contain – would be an immense enviromental disaster of our coast.

So how to prevent National from implementing it’s policy of permitting deep sea drilling/prospecting?

1. Put all oil companies on notice that any contracts will be cancelled by an incoming Labour-Green-Mana government and that there will be no compensation.

This gives them fair warning of potential change of government policy.

After all, if National can change legislation such as labour laws, which previous governments have implemented, then a progressive government has the same sovereign right.

2. Set up a Crown-owned entity which will have all off-shore leases transferred into their ownership. This crown company should be independent; funded through the Remuneration Authority (so that political interference can’t choke of funding for company directors); and a contract made between Government and this Crown company to hold all leases in perpetuity. The Board of Directors should comprise of Iwi, environmental groups, local bodies, and representatives of other groups. If National can attempt to commit future governments to a contract with Skycity to build a new conference centre, then a center-left government should be able to do likewise.

If Option 2 is unworkable, then option 3,

3. Demand a US$1 billion bond per oil drilling facility; demand that each company commit to long-term corporate-entity representation in New Zealand (so legal papers can be served locally, if necessary); demand that all disputes be covered under NZ jurisdiction; demand that fully staffed,  state-of-the-art oil containment technology be held in each distinct area where deep sea drilling is being undertaken. And any other safety, legal, financial matters not covered here.

4. Hold accountable every Minister of the Crown who signs a deep-water oil drilling consent. Accountability to include being charged with negligence, malfeasance, and contributing to any resulting oil spill. Prison terms to be considered.

Option 4 is particularly relevant.  Considering that the Pike River Mine disaster was a direct consequence of National’s “reforms” to the Mines Inspectorate in the early 1990s; and considering that none of the Ministers responsible were ever help accountable (Kate Wilkinson’s token resignation  being only a sacrificial goat); and considering that 29 men lost their lives as a result of National’s policies, it is evident that government ministers need to be held to account for their actions .

I especially have a fondness for Option 4:  Hold accountable every Minister of the Crown who signs a deep-water oil drilling consent…  Prison terms to be considered.

It is high time that government ministers who enact legislation that eventuate in  dire consequences, should be help to account.

If government Ministers were held personally responsible it might slow down the process of so-called “reforms” and reduce Bills passed under “Urgency”.

After all, National demands the same responsibility from the rest of us.

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 23 June 2013.

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