Monday, March 01, 2021

Why are we paying for MPI again?

Last year, the government chickened out on clean rivers, setting "water standards" that failed to properly control poisonous nitrates. So who was to blame? MPI:

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) opposed introducing a tough bottom line for nitrogen levels in rivers over concerns the economic impact would outweigh the environmental benefit, documents show.

MPI repeatedly clashed with the Ministry for the Environment (MfE), even though scientific experts said a Dissolved Organic Nitrogen (DIN) level of 1 mg/L was the best way to protect rivers.

Emails obtained under the Official Information Act show MPI staff wanted the economic cost of introducing a bottom line pushed more prominently in a cabinet paper about nitrogen level options put to ministers in May 2020.

It's the first time MPI's influence on the issue has been revealed.

Its another example of how MPI has been totally captured by the industries it is supposed to regulate, and works to undermine public interest regulation rather than for it. In this case, they were basicly just being a mouthpiece for polluter lobbyists DairyNZ, who opposed any form of nitrogen regulation "because it disagreed with the science" (which sounds a lot like their position on climate change not that many years ago). But if this is all MPI is going to do, then we might as well just fire them all, and let DairyNZ do its own lobbying, rather than spending tens of millions a year to pay public servants to do it for them.

Also worth noting: given recent information linking nitrates to bowel cancer, this decision will have a body count. This decision is more stochastic murder, and MPI and its staff need to be held accountable for it.