Wednesday, December 22, 2010

petroleum report - crown-clowns won't like it

Now I think my views on exploration and exploitation of minerals, oil, gas and coal are well known on this blog but to allay fears - I would not allow ANY more mining at all if I had my way - NONE.

The Waitangi Tribunal has just released a pre-report on the management of the petroleum resource. I am not going to go into the rights and wrongs of my first statement above but rather focus on the report itself.

Why were the claims instigated?
The claims were brought by Ngāruahine of Taranaki and Ngāti Kahungūnu of Hawke’s Bay and Wairarapa. In essence, these tribes claim that the regime for the management of petroleum, as governed by the Crown Minerals Act 1991 and the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA), is in breach of Treaty principles. In their view, three fundamental problems underlie the regime:
• the substance of the law is biased against Māori interests and culture, in favour of conflicting interests;
• the processes established to apply the law fail to ensure that there is effective participation by Māori to safeguard their interests and actually deter, and sometimes deny, Māori involvement; and
• Māori communities do not have the capacity to overcome the obstacles to their effective participation in the system because there are no reliable and sufficient sources of assistance available to them.
and the Waitangi Tribunal says
In sum, we find that there are systemic flaws in the operation of the current regime for managing the petroleum resource. They arise from the combined effect of the following features:
• the limited capacity of ‘iwi authorities’ (tribal government) to take the role envisaged for them in the regime, and the Crown’s failure to provide adequate or appropriate assistance, despite acknowledging the problem;
• the Crown’s failure, despite its Treaty responsibility, to protect Māori interests, to provide local authorities with clear policy guidance and to require them to adopt processes that ensure appropriate Māori involvement in key decisions; and
• the low level of engagement with te ao Māori and Māori perspectives that is exhibited by central and local government decision-makers.
The result, we consider, is that decision-makers tend to minimise Māori interests, and elevate other interests, in their decisions about the petroleum resource. Consequently, neither the regime nor its outcomes are consistent with Treaty principles. The prejudice is that Māori cannot protect their lands, waters, and other tāonga, nor exercise their kaitiakitanga, in the manner or to the degree that they are entitled under the Treaty, and that the law envisages.
... Also, we think that the Crown Minerals Act should be amended to provide greater protection to Māori land, enabling Māori landowners to refuse access where that is their wish. We do not accept that the small, surviving Māori land base should have less protection in respect of petroleum than it is accorded in respect of other Crown minerals. To ensure that decisions are made by the fullest possible collective of owners, permit holders should be required to seek access permission from a meeting of assembled owners, as provided for under Te Ture Whenua Maori Act 1993.

The crown's failure this and the crown failure that. We know this but it is good to have it summarised after due consideration - they cannot hide from this type of report - it skewers them against the wall. But of course they will hide and run - they can't help themselves. Key will say "petroleum is not on the table and never will be", brownlee will just blah blah in his useless way. But there are groups of people who will not get pushed off the path and they will continue to poke this report in their eye and in their spokes.


MikeM said...

Hi Marty. Sorry to shimmy around the main point of your post, but your opening paragraph got me thinking more about our reliance on mining.

If we don't mine some things in New Zealand, it means we're importing mined materials from elsewhere, anything like iron and steel and gold (if just for practical things like computers) as well as all the less-noticed things like Nickel and Copper and Zinc which are needed to get Steel, and so we're pushing the problem into other countries whose citizens might have less control over protecting their environment than here. (Perhaps they have more, and have simply decided to mine regardless.)

If it's okay to ask them to mine their land for whatever reason, does that make it okay to mine at home if it can be done with acceptable consequences? (Possibly a zero footprint above ground once the mine's removed, for instance.) Or is it a distinct value in New Zealand which isn't found in other places that makes the difference? Or is it simply because it's ours?

I don't know if you saw the notes I took, but a few months back I went to a very interesting talk by Prof Dave Craw who's the director of Environmental Sciences at Otago University a few months back. It looks as if there's a lot out there waiting to become economically viable, especially things like phosphate just waiting to be scooped up off the sea floor (probably in a way that'll be detrimental to marine life), and it'll definitely be wanted to replace all the phosphate being pulled out of the soil and sent overseas in all the food we're exporting.

I think in the longer term to be most sustainable in terms of mining, New Zealand and the world (if it's interested) need to seriously think about how to completely reduce the reliance on mined materials as much as possible, rather than simply saying "don't mine our back yard and buy it from someone else's back yard instead".

I suppose this is what you get when there's a global economy that for its future wealth relies on machines powered by tanks full of burning fossils.

Marty Mars said...

Kia ora Mike

Thanks for your thoughtful comment.

I was feeling a bit worked up when i wrote that first paragraph - just finished reading this -

We do have a dependence on mining and my view is that is what we need to change - we need to reduce. Reduce consumption and reduce our dependence. That commitment to reduction needs to extend to importing the metals and elements too. Of course this would mean big changes to our society but I think we are living in an illusion at the moment - thinking everything is just going to continue the way it has been and my reading is that it cannot continue.

The exploitive nature of mining affects many systems - the environment, people, economies, self determination, communities and so on. There are no winners from the industry except the shareholders in the mining companies. And they care about profit.

Sure we use gold for computers but more for jewellery. And yes we need to put trace elements into the soil so that some farmers can grow cows in places that cannot really grow them or they just want more cows so they can make more profit.

Another aspect is reusing the stuff we throw away - it can be recycled and reused if broken down safely - unfortunately i have seen footage of how they do it in other countries by hand and it is very disturbing.

Your notes are brilliant and show many of the reasons i am against it from an environmental point of view. I just cannot see it being sustainable - the price is too high and that is without even considering the other unseen forces that are important for many.

The debate is set up on the point of - we will be mining - that is it. But I don't believe that position is tenable or realistic.

Ana said...

check this out as well