Friday, October 14, 2011

We have a choice

Writing in the Herald, Tracey Barnett reminds us that the Rena disaster is a warning. If you think its bad that there is oil on the beaches from Tauranga to Opotiki, with all that implies for fish, wildlife, and the environment, just remind yourself: this is just a container ship. What if it had been one of National's proposed deep-sea oil wells? The damage would have been ten, a hundred, a thousand times as bad.

The government can reassure us that they will protect the environment. Drillers will be required to use "world's best practice". But "world's best practice" is just business-speak for "letting polluters do what they've always done, and pretending its good enough". It didn't protect the Gulf of Mexico from the Deepwater Horizon spill, and it didn't protect us from the Rena.

This election, we have a choice: do we drill offshore, or not? Do we risk our own Deepwater Horizon, or not? The parties are already lining up to tell us what they think. The Greens, Mana and Maori Party of course oppose offshore drilling, and Labour has now joined them. The government OTOH still supports it, but could be persuaded to change its mind if there is a big enough backlash. So, when you vote this year, think about what is happening in Tauranga, to one of New Zealand's most popular beaches, and think about which parties will let it happen again and which won't. As Barnett says, "deep water drilling is a choice. It doesn't have to be our future".