Thursday, August 11, 2022

Eugenie Sage's mining ban bill

A ballot for one member's bill was held today, and the following bill was drawn:

  • Crown Minerals (Prohibition of Mining) Amendment Bill (Eugenie Sage)

The bill is pitched as protecting conservation land, and it does immediately do that. But it also goes further, doing exactly what it says on the label: prohibiting all new prospecting, exploration and mining permits, on conservation land or not, from 1 January 2025 (and new permits of any sort for coal immediately). It also requires existing permits to be surrendered immediately where protected wildlife is on the specified land.

There are a number of strands here (protecting schedule 4, protecting endangered species, banning new coal, banning all new mining), each of which could have been its own bill. And I think the "no new mining at all" provision is problematic, because it covers things like quarries, which actually seem necessary for a while longer. The other provisions though seem like a very good idea, and in the case of the coal ban, doesn't go far enough - to save the climate its not enough to ban new coal mines, but to shut down existing ones as well. Debbie Ngarewa-Packer's Prohibition on Seabed Mining Legislation Amendment Bill shows the method we need to adopt there, and has a number of useful provisions around extinguishing existing permits which could be stolen. The only question is the sunset date we choose, and how long we give the coal industry (and the industries dependent on it for energy) to manage an orderly shutdown and transition.