Tuesday, December 04, 2012

A victory for the environment

Brazilian oil company Petrobras has abandoned plans for deep-sea drilling off East Cape and turned in its exploration permits. Good. The drilling was risky, and exposed us to a catastrophic environmental disaster we would have no way of cleaning up. We saw how much damage the Rena did, both to our environment and the local economy - and that was a small oil spill. An offshore blowout would have been devastating.

Fortunately, we are no longer exposed to that risk. Which gives us some time to plug the gaping hole in our regulations. Currently, there's no requirement that deep-sea oil wells be fitted with blowout protectors, and no requirement for environmental insurance to cover the cost (both environmental and economic) of a catastrophic spill before a well is drilled. These two problems need to be fixed. If you can't plug it, you shouldn't drill it. And if you're not willing to pay to clean up your mess and compensate those affected, you shouldn't risk making one. The costs of drilling should be paid by the oil industry, not by the rest of society.