Jan Wright's fracking publicity stunt | The Jackal

5 Dec 2012

Jan Wright's fracking publicity stunt

Today, the NZ Herald tweeted:

That's excellent I thought, because there are a number of questions I have been meaning to ask the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, Jan Wright, about her interim report (PDF) into the environmental impacts of fracking in New Zealand.

So I clicked on the NZ Herald link and was happy to see that the live chat session had only just started.

After 29 minutes, lizziemfitzgerald asked:

Based on your interim finding it seems that fracking hasn't caused any problems in Taranaki so why do you think that there needs to be better regs?

Jan Wright replied:

I haven't reached a firm conclusion that there have been no problems in Taranaki. While I haven't found any big red flags, I will be having a closer look at the monitoring that has been done. That said, I don't think it's possible to take the Taranaki experience and extrapolate it to other parts of the country, other kinds of fracking, and greater scale.

To which I asked:

Saying that you haven't reached a firm conclusion that there hasn't been any problems in Taranaki because of fracking is a roundabout way of saying you know of fracking related problems. In my opinion, you should acknowledge these various problems in your reports. I am aware of four major environmental problems as a result of fracking in Taranaki. Although I understand your need to be diplomatic, these need more than the once over lightly.

Clearly the report is misleading if lizziemfitzgerald comment is anything to go by, as there are numerous instances of environmental damage in Taranaki from various fracking incidents.

Unfortunately these problems are often not reported by the largely self-regulated fracking industry or by the complicit Taranaki Regional Council. Even when they are, they are hidden within screeds of other information and worded in a way that makes them seem less serious. Unbelievably most of the various fracking problems that have been reported were not even mentioned in Jan Wrights interim report.

How can the public have faith that Jan Wright is undertaking an unbiased investigation if she doesn't even mention all the fracking problems in Taranaki that have already occurred? Some of these problems are of major concern such as the irreparable damage to aquifers around the region.

After a while without getting a response or indeed having my comment appear on the site at all, I repeated it at 12:55 PM.

The NZ Herald then wrote:

Thanks everyone for all your great questions so far. This live chat will end in a few minutes....

Unfortunately I now have little faith in Jan Wright to properly investigate and make the appropriate recommendations concerning the highly dangerous fracking industry. This was nothing more than a publicity stunt, and a failure of one at that.