Herald editor backs up shonkey legislation | The Jackal

8 Aug 2012

Herald editor backs up shonkey legislation

I'm getting used to the NZ Herald editorials being bent towards Nationals rightwing policy direction... In fact they've been completely devoid of objectivity and journalistic integrity lately.

Today, the biased offering from Tim Murphy is no exception:

The deep sea drilling required to reach those deposits is no longer discouraging the world's prospectors, and New Zealand needs to attract their interest. At the same time, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, that set up the exclusive economic zones, requires the countries with jurisdiction to protect the marine environment. The Government has a bill before Parliament that aims to balance economic and environmental considerations in the 200-mile zone. It is proving highly contentious.


The Government gave little ground in the select committee, but it appears willing to give some now. The Environment Minister, Amy Adams, told a conference of the Environmental Defence Society in Auckland this week that the bill's purpose would be amended to more closely resemble the Resource Management Act which applies out to the 12-mile territorial limit. And proposed penalties for marine pollution would be raised from $600,000 to $10 million.

Here in little old New Zealand we don't have the advantage of neighbors with the required equipment to help in the event of a large scale oil spill, and we don't have this equipment ourselves. It would take months before another oil rig arrived to drill a relief well for instance, and even if it was successful, a huge amount of damage would already have been done.

It should also be noted that increasing the fine to $10 million is window dressing at its worst and will go nowhere near paying for continued remediation work in the event of a large oil spill. The relatively small MV Rena disaster is estimated to have cost $130 million, and the Deepwater Horizon disaster cost $41.3 billion according to BP.

Being that oil and gas companies would pay only a fraction of the cleanup cost even under the proposed changes, they have little reason to play it safe... Cutting corners maximizes profits after all and why should they care when almost all of the risk is socialized.

Critics are reserving judgment until they see the fine print of these amendments, but they seem unlikely to be satisfied. They constantly invoke the accident in the Gulf of Mexico two years ago and the oil spill from the Rena in the Bay of Plenty last year as reasons to oppose all undersea drilling, and note the basins of our submarine continent are 3000m to 4000m deep, twice the depth of the Gulf of Mexico.

I don't see many people reserving judgement on Nationals promotion of their secretive deep sea oil exploration agenda, which is largely being funded by the taxpayer. People who oppose deep sea oil drilling don't "invoke" the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico... They understand the horrendous reality of that disaster, which should be considered with all the soberness the NZ Herald editor is obviously lacking.

The effects on the Gulf of Mexico are ongoing, with Dolphins and other sea life continuing to die in unprecedented numbers and various scientific studies showing changes to animals on a genetic and reproductive level. You might expect the NZ Herald editor to be well read on these topics before writing about them, at least enough to know that people living in the effected areas are still experiencing serious adverse health effects. Ignorance is bliss I suppose.

The basins are so deep that environmentalists are not sure what marine life is down there to protect. The present wording of the bill would seem adequate in that respect. When applications for seabed drilling come to the Environmental Protection Authority it would have to take into account the protection of "biological diversity and integrity of marine species, ecosystems and processes".

Reading between the lines, one gets the impression Tim Murphy is arguing that because the species in deep waters are unknown, then who cares. As long as the government effectively spins its propaganda about job creation and economic benefits, which are in reality minor, while many MPs invest in oil and gas companies themselves, the environment will continue to play second fiddle to the greed motive.

There will be no so-called balance, because National MPs are blinded by the dollar signs in their eyes. Like propagandist Tim Murphy, they don't even consider such policy making a contribution to anthropomorphic climate change, which isn't even mentioned in the article once, mainly because National, many of their supporters and it would seem the Herald editor, are a bunch of climate change deniers.

When he cites the Rena experience, though, he may find the public less fearful. That "environmental catastrophe" turned out to be fairly quickly cleaned up. It is doubtful that a spill much further out to sea would do more damage to our nearest coast.

Most of the oil from the Rena disaster wasn't cleaned up; bombarding it with cancer causing CoreExit hid it under the ocean. I guess that fits nicely with the out of sight out of mind argument from the idiot editor.

Newsflash! What you can't see can hurt you and the Bay of Plenty is still experiencing animal deaths that are likely attributable to the Rena disaster. There has been no comprehensive scientific study to show that the area is free from adverse effects, which because of the large amounts of undisclosed toxic chemicals that were onboard, are still largely unknown.

While the UN convention made environmental protection obligatory it cannot have intended that protection would preclude economic exploitation. It did call the zones it created "exclusive economic zones". If mining, fishing, tourism and cable laying are going to be possible, there will have to be permissible risk. The bill must not lose its balance.

Permissible risk would take into consideration our cleanup capability in the event of a worse case scenario... It would take into account the increased reliance on petroleum products contributing to climate change, which puts at risk future generations. It would consider the risk to our productive industries in the event of an oil spill and the risk to our clean and green branding.

New Zealand has no capability to deal with even a moderately sized oil spill... Therefore there is no permissible risk with deep-sea oil drilling. There is no feasible way to weigh economic gains against potential and probable environmental destruction and its lasting effects... Therefore deep sea oil drilling should simply not be on the agenda.