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EPA to be gutted – for doing its job

Written By: - Date published: 10:40 am, November 12th, 2015 - 24 comments
Categories: Abuse of power, Conservation, democracy under attack, Mining, national - Tags: , , ,

One News broke the story:

Exclusive: New Zealand’s guardian of the seas under threat from the Government

The Government is considering changes to the Environmental Protection Authority, after the guardian of the seas turned down two offshore mining applications.

The EPA is responsible for protecting the ocean around New Zealand, and the Government is debating changes to the agency which will decide who gets to prospect for oil and mine offshore.

The EPA recently rejected plans to mine iron ore off the Taranaki coast and a phosphate mining venture in the Chatham Rise.

Currently the EPA chooses the members of its “decision making committees” – experts who spend months deciding whether to allow activities in an area stretching 200 miles out to seas. But the changes would see the Government make the appointments.

Conservationists believe the EPA’s independence is now under threat. “Once you politicise the approval process with a government that is fully committed to pretty unrestricted mining then clearly you are going to get an outcome of more mining and more environmental destruction,” Mr Norman said.

Environmental Minister Nick Smith would not confirm the proposals he’s taking to cabinet. …

See also this Greenpeace press release: Government muzzles environmental watchdog to pave way for mining deals.

24 comments on “EPA to be gutted – for doing its job ”

  1. esoteric pineapples 1

    I was pretty sure that was what they would do after the Taranaki and Chatham Island sea mining proposals were turned down. Like the corporations whose interests they represent, this government is an amoral entity that recognises no force but that which blocks its path. It then simply looks for a way around the obstacle instead of accepting that it has reached a barrier. It is basically like The Terminator.

    • AmaKiwi 1.1

      Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

      Independent government watchdog agencies will NEVER be independent until their funding and leadership are separated from the power of the government of the day.

      There are ways to do this but all require Parliament to relinquish power. Parliament won’t because absolute power is their dream come true.

      It’s up to us to force the changes.

  2. savenz 2


    Even worse they can’t see the world is changing around them away from polluting practises!

    Look at Pike River – this is how our government runs mines – killing people, the environment and getting agencies to rubber stamp everything.

    If it is offshore it will be even worse!

  3. ianmac 3

    Think of the a democratic ECan. They made the “wrong” decisions to protect the Canterbury water supply. Farmers needed water so the Government appointed their own Commissioners and sacked the elected ones.
    And did the people rise up? Not really.
    And now they come for the EPA. Will the people rise up?

  4. Rosemary McDonald 4

    I would have thought that it would have been a sound tactic on behalf of the gummint to appear to strengthen EPA at this point….you know, lest those of us labelled “politically irrelevant” for protesting against the TPP were to suspect the gummint of weakening our environmental protection laws in anticipation of the planned corporate takeover of NZ.

    Or have I been reading too much “Yes, Prime Minister”?

    There are/were some good people attempting to do environmental protection at ERMA/EPA…

  5. Dazzer 5

    Jobs jobs jobs

    • Ad 5.1

      I was personally impressed with our EPA when they completely killed off the phosphate mining proposal on the Chatham Rise. It had so many internal economic benefits in terms of a domestic source for phosphate (read: entire pastoral economy), and was a pet mining project for the government using completely domestically-raised capital.

      The uncontrolled underwater mining plume was the core of the concern.

      Would not be surprised if that was the origin of this political taming exercise. Very similar to what they did with Environment Commissioners’ State of the Environment reporting.

      EPA could have helped themselves in Wellington by providing the government with a decent win somewhere.

      • Dazzer 5.1.1

        Actually before I go further an apology of sorts – the original comment could have been perceived as bordering on trolling.

        What I meant was that IMO Labour and Little in particular have a problem with the paradox of focussing on job creation while balancing environmental issues and protection.

        Little’s speech went down well with the converted and the sound bites were well played out. However, the political reality is far more challenging.

        Thoughtful reply too.

        • weka

          Do you think it’s challenging for Labour because of reality, or because they don’t value the environment enough. I don’t really understand the whole jobs vs environment thing because obviously there is plenty of work to be done that is not destructive so why don’t we build employment around that instead of things that destroy the place?

      • weka 5.1.2

        We’re approaching Peak Phosphorus. The sooner we get off that addiction the better.

  6. Sirenia 6

    It would be this Government’s usual form to appoint people to this agency who have minimal knowledge of the issues but can be relied on to back anything the government wants.

    • AmaKiwi 6.1

      Sirenia, you are too generous. They will appoint people with tons of knowledge such as former executives of mining companies.

  7. Tricledrown 7

    This is the same process Nick Smith as happened to Ecan.
    Where Nick Smiths brother was refused water for expanding production in Canterbury.
    Now every river is seriously polluted the worst enforcement of polluter’s in the country.
    More of the same from Nick Smith coming our way.

  8. Mrs Brillo 8

    Nick Smith needs to be reminded that his title is Minister FOR the Environment.

    Not Minister for Banjaxing the Environment.

    • AmaKiwi 8.1

      Minister for which environment? The agri-business environment? The property developer’s environment?

      Sorry, Mrs Brillo, the environment you requested has been discontinued by National.

  9. Sans Cle 9

    Unsurprising when the broader National Party’s business interests are being compromised by a pesky agency. A quick search of the companies register shows that Jennifer Mary Shipley is an ex-director of Trans-Tasman Resources, one of the companies that was unsuccessful in their application to the EPA for mining off Taranaki.

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