Minister of Energy and Resources, Simon Bridges, misrepresents interim New Zealand fracking report by Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment

Minister of Energy and Resources, Simon Bridges, misrepresents interim New Zealand fracking report by Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment by Pauline Doyle, November 16, 2013, Gisborne Herald
In his November 9 opinion piece, Simon Bridges made bald claims regarding the oil and gas industry’s “safety and environmental record” in New Zealand. Furthermore, he has misrepresented the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment. Contrary to his interpretation, Dr Jan Wright called the current regulatory regime “complex and fragmented” with no “fit for purpose” oversight and with a lack of transparency. In her interim report last year the commissioner stated: “companies are perhaps being trusted rather too much to all do ‘the right thing”’, while noting “only the most recent consents require that groundwater around the well is monitored for contaminants”.

Dr Wright noted that, as at 2012, more than 50 fracking operations for oil and gas had occurred in New Zealand since the first known frack in 1989, all but two of those in Taranaki. But until recently Taranaki District Council neither required consents for these nor carried out any monitoring or environmental effects assessments of them. That was done (if at all) by the companies concerned; they were, in practice, allowed to design their own programmes in their own way and carry them out purely to their own satisfaction. In short, the industry had been setting its own rules.

So it’s stretching the truth to claim, as Mr Bridges has endeavoured to do, that “New Zealand’s oil and gas industry has historically operated with a strong safety and environmental record”. If the oil and gas industry has had any problems fracking, they simply haven’t been reported. Dr Wright’s full report should be ready for release to the public mid-2014. Until then, the jury is “still out” and the Minister should refrain from misrepresenting the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment. [Emphasis added]

Regulations robust by New Zealand Minister of Energy and Resources, Simon Bridges, November 16, 2013, Gisborne Herald
I stand by my statement that New Zealand’s oil and gas industry has historically operated with a strong safety and environmental record. To date, more than 1100 wells have been drilled through New Zealand, both on and offshore, with no significant oil spills or environmental accidents. Over 50 wells have been fracked with no significant adverse environmental effects. The most important conclusion made by Parliamentary Commissioner Dr Jan Wright, in her interim report, is that fracking can be carried out safely. The work we have put in to date to strengthen the petroleum regime and regulatory frameworks is a strong and proactive response to the issues Dr Wright has raised. I am confident that our health and safety, and environmental regulations are robust and best-practice. [Being confident means nothing in reality. Confidence does not result in laws and regulations enforced, loopholes removed, and gag orders for buying out contamination cases made illegal]

In Taranaki, resource consents are required for all oil and gas developments — fracking is no exception. The Taranaki Regional Council (TRC) robustly monitor all well sites and production stations in its jurisdiction. Production stations are inspected six times a year and well sites are inspected weekly during active exploration and production. In the last 12 months alone, over 1000 compliance inspections were undertaken. The TRC has also carried out comprehensive surveying of all historical sites where fracking has taken place. The results are clearly documented on the TRC website. They cannot find a single indication of an adverse environmental effect directly related to fracking. [Then why is Fontera refusing milk from farmers allowing the dumping of toxic waste on their dairy farms? Emphasis added]

[Refer also to:

New Zealand milk dumped as toxic oil and gas drilling mud taints 14 Fonterra tankers

Fonterra to stop taking milk from New Zealand farms allowing dumping of oil and gas waste ]

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