You serve another.

This is the text of a submission to the EPA regarding OMV’s application to allow it to explore in the Great South Basin

The submission will include a transcript of “We are the EPA” video linked to the homepage at www.epa.govt.nz. It is described as a “video to explain who we are and what we do”.

The current and future state of the environment, as you know, depends mostly on the levels of atmospheric carbon, which are increasing at a runaway pace. By now it’s likely that no subject has been studied more closely or obtained more consensus.

It is now absolutely certain that these changes will be the legacy we pass on to future generations. It is also certain that the decisions we make about fossil fuels are primarily what shape our future.

You say your job is to never lose sight of the bigger picture, yet this process studiously ignores it. By definition, you have lost sight of the bigger picture. The carbon OMV seeks is, according to the IPCC, unburnable, yet you propose allowing its release. By doing this you willingly green light projects that clearly destroy the environment irrevocably, for hundreds or perhaps thousands of years into the future.

You say your job is to remain independent, yet it’s clear that the only ones to benefit from this action is OMV. By green-lighting more gas you perpetuate the delay in renewable investments and work while also locking in future extinctions, coastal inundation, and the destruction of systems that provide food and water.

You say your independence is your strength, but your actions cannot possibly serve the people who live here, near the coastline, eating the food and drinking the water. You say you’re working for the good of Aotearoa, but the interests of OMV are clearly all that matters to you. Because the short term returns to those who work in the industry will be spent long before the predictable systemic collapses befall the lives of their children.

People here want to preserve their current way of life and are unable to see that this is no longer possible. Not now. It’s simply too late. The oil industry saw this decades ago and covered it up for generations. While it is not commonly understood, it remains undisputed publicly available knowledge.

You are, as you say, a group of scientists, policy makers and regulators, trusted to remain independent and dedicated to looking out for the health of our environment. You ought to know this. You have been trusted to know what environmental writers have been saying for decades. This is your responsibility. If you found the works of Naomi Klein, David Wallace Wells or Elizabeth Kolbert alarming it was up to you to call one of the IPCC authors that live and work in this country, and to ask them “is this right?”. I asked Dr James Renwick this question two years ago. He simply replied that it was. He continues to say this.

If you allow this project to continue you are denying your own kaupapa, as stated in your video. You are denying it word for word. You are not who you claim to be. You do not speak for Aotearoa, nor do you serve it. You serve another.

I ask the EPA to examine its own agenda. I ask its members to think about the legacy they wish to leave. I request that they block further exploration at all costs.

One comment

  1. Yes indeed. Of course, the Decision Making Committees typically claim to be ‘in a box’ or ‘hamstrung’ by the legislation. The EEZ-CS Act was designed to foster these kinds of activities, with likely significant input from NZ PAM and MBIE, and subsequently amended, like the Crown Minerals Act, following ‘secret meetings’ between the relevant National Party Ministers, Simon Bridges and Steven Joyce and senior members of the fossil fuel industry, to exclude public scrutiny or input to most aspects of fossil fuel exploration. The Act was handed over to EPA to administer – a poisoned chalice indeed. It needs significant amendment re climate and ocean impacts to be fit for purpose. Until that happens, EPA will continue to be ‘in a box’, conducting expensive, long-winded but ultimately farcical public hearings into minor aspects of these applications (EG. release of trace amounts of ecotoxic substances), while the elephant in the room continues to wreak havoc.

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