A vocal critic of government policy on offshore drilling in the Raukumara Basin says he cautiously welcomes the announcement that a new bill will be introduced this year to establish regulations on minerals exploration and extraction beyond the Territorial Sea.
District Councillor Manu Caddie says the proposal announced by Minister for the Environment Nick Smith is a big step in the right direction.
“I take issue with his statement that what happens beyond the 12 mile limit has less effect on local communities, a large oil or gas leak in the EEZ would have a massive impact on the Coast.”
Mr Caddie says that provided the legislation has provisions at least as robust as the Resource Management Act, he believes it is a positive development.
“It is pleasing to see that where a proposed activity spans the boundary between the territorial sea and EEZ, local government would have a joint role with the EPA in decision-making.
“The devil will be in the detail in terms of things like a substantial bond can be put in place before any drilling starts in case something goes wrong. We have seen overseas when a major spill happens the issue can be tied up in court for decades and the taxpayer foots the cleanup bill and no one is held to account. Requiring a billion dollar bond up front seems fair to me and should be easy to do for companies with a good reputation.”
Mr Caddie says he is also concerned about the process the EPA will use for determining what activities are determined to be permitted, discretionary or prohibited. “The Minister says seismic testing is likely to be permitted but we will make sure the EPA has access to evidence demonstrating the significant impact seismic testing has on some marine life during their regulation-setting decisions.”
“This proposal obviously doesn’t address the fundamental issue of fossil fuel extraction and the problems that creates for the country and the planet.”