Thursday, October 11, 2018

Submission on the Crown Minerals (Petroleum) Amendment Bill

  1. I support the Crown Minerals (Petroleum) Amendment Bill and ask that it be passed with the amendments suggested below.

  2. As this week's IPCC report shows, humanity needs to move rapidly away from fossil fuels if we are to have any hope of avoiding catastrophic climate change. Our global carbon budget does not allow humanity to burn the fossil fuels we have already discovered. Therefore, looking for more is both pointless, and insofar as it encourages the burning of fossil carbon and the pollution of the atmosphere with greenhouse gases, actively dangerous.

  3. Banning offshore oil exploration is a small step towards making that necessary shift, but it is a step in the right direction, and I support it. Banning exploration will gradually strangle the oil industry in New Zealand, and so reduce our contribution to global climate change. Obviously it needs to be followed up with further action: banning onshore exploration, banning fossil fuel extraction, banning fossil fuel vehicles, and ultimately banning fossil fuel use entirely. But those (and measures combating other greenhouse gases) are topics for other legislation.

  4. The bill however does not go far enough. There are two obvious flaws which limit its effectiveness:

  5. Holders of exploration permits have a statutory right to convert their permit to a mining permit if they make a discovery. If the government is serious about calling time on offshore oil, then it needs to remove that right, or put a sunset clause on it. Given the urgency of the global situation, I recommend eliminating it entirely for any petroleum permit outside of onshore Taranaki. Alternatively, a five year sunset clause seems more than generous, keeping in mind that any mining permit means another twenty years of dangerous emissions.

  6. Holders of exploration permits can also have them changed to change the area covered, the minerals to which they relate, extend their duration or change their conditions. Section 7 of the bill partially addresses this by forbidding petroleum permits from being extended to areas outside the onshore Taranaki region. However, this would still allow a holder of an existing permit to have it extended or have its conditions modified to remove "drill or drop" or surrender conditions, which is contrary to the intent of this bill. It also allows the holders of permits for other minerals - for example, ironsands - to have their permits changed to allow them to explore for or mine petroleum. The bill needs to be amended to ensure that no existing offshore petroleum permit can have any change to its conditions, and that no permit of any form can be changed in any way so as to allow the prospecting or exploration for or mining of petroleum outside the onshore Taranaki region. Failing to do this will invite game-playing by the fossil fuel industry, and will directly undermine the purposes of the bill.

  7. I do not wish to appear in person before the committee.