Environment Minister Amy Adams said yesterday activities involved in offshore exploratory drilling for oil & gas would be classified as non-notified discretionary under new Exclusive Economic Zone & Continental Shelf (Environmental Effects) Act regulations, effective from today.
Ms Adams said: “The non-notified discretionary classification is the pragmatic option for exploratory drilling, and will provide a level of regulation proportionate to its effects. This is part of the National-led government’s overhaul of the laws & regulations governing the oil & gas industry.
“The classification will provide effective oversight & environmental safeguards without burdening industry with excessive costs & timeframes.”
As part of the marine consent application, operators must submit an impact assessment that identifies impacts on the environment & existing interests.
Environmental Defence Society chairman Gary Taylor said the minister was saying, ‘Trust us – we know what we’re doing.’
However, he said: “The approach creates a real possibility of regulatory capture by the industry, one of the factors that a presidential inquiry found contributed to the disastrous Deepwater Horizons spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
“The Minister for the Environment has said the level of regulation is ‘proportionate to the effects’. This assertion is risible: the consequences of a spill in New Zealand’s oceans are enormous and would be devastating to our seabirds, marine mammals, fisheries & coastline.
“This light-touch regulation is clearly disproportionate to the potential environmental effects. The minister is putting our marine ecosystems at unwarranted risk by having a closed-shop consenting process. This is not what New Zealanders who support deep-sea drilling expected. Several opinion polls have shown that support for the industry is conditional on best practice oversight.”
Attribution: Ministerial & EDS releases.