So not only will we not be permitted to protest at sea against deep sea oil drilling, but the Government is planning to remove our ability to object to applications for consent for deep sea exploratory drilling.
From Stuff this morning:
The Government is planning to remove the public’s right to oppose deep-sea oil and gas exploration.
A law change would see applications by oil giants go through the Environmental Protection Agency, but they would be “non-notified”, which means members of the public would not get to have a say.
Environment Minister Amy Adams released a discussion document yesterday and invited submissions.
The proposal will be introduced to the Marine Legislation Bill, currently before Parliament, by way of a Supplementary Order Paper. This means it won’t go through a parliamentary select committee.
This proposal is wrong in so many ways. Get this, it will be introduced law by way of a SOP. Not only will members of the public not be able to make submissions on a proposal for exploratory deep sea drilling, but they will not even be able to submit to a select committee on the proposal to take away their rights to make submissions on a proposal.
There will be a submission process, of sorts. You have until September 25 to file written submissions. I am sure that the submissions will be considered carefully. There will be an in-tray on the Minister’s desk marked “Oil Industry and sympathetic submissions” and a sign on the office shredder marked “Submissions opposed”.
The discussion paper contains a classic goldilocks analysis. Making exploratory drilling a permitted activity would be too permissive, making it prohibited would be too restrictive, so of course it should be discretionary. That is good as far as it goes but it does not mean that the public should not have a say when applications are made.
In classic National speak the aim of the proposal “is to cut consenting costs and timeframes for applicants compared to the discretionary classification, while maintaining appropriate regulatory oversight of the impacts of these activities on the environment and existing interests, which cannot always be provided for by a permitted classification.”
Some may say that it is only for exploratory drilling so we have nothing to worry about. But this is the stage where risks are greatest. The Deep Horizon Oil Spill was from an exploratory well.
The change process being used matches the law changes rammed through by Simon Bridges earlier this year that criminalised sea protests. Radio New Zealand reported that this change was the result of lobbying by oil companies. No doubt these proposed changes are also the result of lobbying.
Why is it that this Government will listen intently every time that the oil companies talk to it but it refuses to let us have our say when an Oil Company wants to drill in our ocean?