Michael Self - Hero of the Week | The Jackal

9 May 2012

Michael Self - Hero of the Week

Yesterday, the Taranaki Daily News reported:

Michael Self yesterday accused the Taranaki Regional Council of a betrayal over its monitoring of the oil and gas industry.

But his comments ignited a flare of indignation from councillors, and in particular from chief executive Basil Chamberlain.

"They [his comments] were totally unfounded: not one shred of evidence," Mr Chamberlain said. "Michael Self's submission was a disgrace, especially from a district councillor and that should be communicated to him."

The reason the accusations have recieved such a reaction is because they're true. The fracking industries self-monitoring regime in Taranaki is a complete joke and allows routine breaches of discharge consents without any penalty.

In fact the TRC is more likely to just increase the amount of pollution the consent allows to ensure the frackers meet their conditions. There is also no proper independent monitoring, and therefore no accountability when environmental damage occurs.

Mr Self, a South Taranaki District councillor, has been prominent in his opposition to the oil drilling technique called fracking, where chemicals are pumped into the ground under pressure.

At a hearing on submissions to the TRC yesterday, he appeared with Ngaere resident David Morrison and again criticised the monitoring around the oil and gas industry.

His statements earned no favour and will result in a furious letter in reply from TRC chairman David MacLeod.

During his speech Mr Self implied the high rates of cancer and birth defects in the Kapuni area were due to the groundwater and river contaminations where TRC did not keep Shell Todd Oil Services (STOS) in check.

It's interesting that there is more prevalence of cancer and birth defects where polluting industries operate. Without any other explanation as to why there is an increase in these horrendous afflictions other than an association with those industries, one can only conclude that they are responsible.

He [Mr Self] demanded TRC order a halt to fracking until the release of the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment's investigation, and that the council review its practices.

Well that would be common sense. With there being a direct association between fracking and earthquakes as well as a number of documented cases of fracking pollution in New Zealand, the industry simply cannot claim it's safe.

Mr Self said TRC report summaries would praise the industry for good practice, but when reading through there were examples of "disasters".

"We see in your own reports conflict of interests."

He again pointed out TRC's director of resource management Fred McLay's prior employment for STOS and said his drinking water from the Cheal B drilling site in November "made us look like stupid-looking provincial people".

It was too much for TRC councillor Neil Walker: "Your implication is we all lack integrity, that we are involved in conspiracy, that we're all corrupt. Just because somebody has once worked for someone else does not make them a dishonest person."

It's a typical practice of the oil and gas industry to try to take over any authoritative organisation that could impact on their business. People with such an obvious conflict of interest and therefore a biased opinion should not be in a position to decide how the industry is monitored.

Clearly Michael Self is deserving of a Hero award for speaking the truth. The TRC needs to be held to account for allowing continued breaches of resource consents related to fracking. Thankfully there are people like Michael Self in the world who are willing to do so. Keep up the good work.