John Pfahlert - Asshole of the Week Award | The Jackal

12 Oct 2011

John Pfahlert - Asshole of the Week Award

It has been sad to see National MP's trying to deflect any responsibility for the MV Rena disaster by blaming it solely on the Filipino crew. Although they hold some responsibility, many things have led up to this avoidable accident, insurance job or act of terrorism.

There is no question that the MV Rena disaster has many political and environmental implications that should be disused with level heads. Far too much is at stake to resort to unfounded spin and rhetoric.

Unfortunately a campaign of disinformation is exactly what some National MP's and the pro oil and gas industry idiots are currently conducting.

In 1983, the then Minister of Labour Jim Bolger introduced voluntary Unionism and in 1994 National completely deregulated the sector, which caused less skill and oversight within the shipping industry.

The fact of the matter is that the National party is responsible for allowing flag of convenience vessels that are not properly maintained or skilfully crewed into New Zealand waters. They did this to maximize profits and meet the wishes of their foreign masters, who have little interest in paying for any damage to the environment and people's livelihoods that their unscrupulous practices cause.

That failure to do what is right for New Zealand will be paid for by the people, as the cleanup costs for the MV Rena disaster will easily exceed the maximum fines able to be imposed on the owners, who seem determined to hide their true identities.

Yesterday the Gisborne Herald ran a story entitled Let the experts do their job, in which the Executive Officer for the Petroleum Exploration and Production Association (PEPANZ), John Pfahlert makes a number of irresponsible and misleading assertions:
OIL industry spokesman John Pfahlert says people who are connecting the growing threat of a major oil spill emergency in the Bay of Plenty with oil drilling are being alarmist.

“People trying to connect the emerging oil spill from a grounded ship off Tauranga with oil drilling need to draw breath and let the experts deal with the crisis,” he said.

But Mr Pfahlert says the incident highlights that the greatest threat of a significant oil spill in New Zealand water is from a ship, not from oil drilling.

“This accident is looking serious. But it isn’t enough for the alarmists. Their agenda is to magnify and misconstrue the facts, to raise concerns about oil drilling that are completely irrelevant to the current situation.

A shipping mishap posing a significant environmental threat occurs in New Zealand on average every couple of years, whereas there has never been a significant spill from an offshore oil well.

The alarmists ought to hold their tongues and let the people with the experience and knowledge get on with dealing with this very real event.

The petroleum industry is proud of its safety record in New Zealand and is working with the government to ensure New Zealand health, safety and environmental safeguards are world’s best practice,” John Pfahlert said.
For starters, it doesn't matter to the environment where that oil has come from, it still needs to be cleaned up. The fact that an oil spill further out to sea makes any cleanup process even more difficult seems to have been completely lost on Pfahlert, and many other pro drilling advocates and MP's for that matter.

Secondly, by raising our concerns about New Zealand's cleanup response capabilities we are not stopping the experts from doing their jobs. Such an argument is disingenuous and clearly designed to try and absolve themselves from responsibility.

There is now no question that National's plans to proceed with deep-sea oil exploration and drilling are foolhardy. It is clearly evident that New Zealand has little to no response capabilities to deal with a large oil spill adequately.

So for promoting deep-sea oil drilling and providing the public with unfounded and untruthful claims that promote a dangerous and destructive industry, John Pfahlert is this week's asshole award winner.