Submission Guide for the Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf (Environmental Effects) Act 2012 and current regulatory proposals
It is your right as a New Zealander to have a say in what happens in our oceans, to the environment, and to the health and well being of present and future generations. The New Zealand Government has proposed further changes to the laws governing new offshore oil and gas drilling which could mean high risk deep sea drilling proceeding without public notification or consultation.
You have 20 minutes and two choices. You can either stop reading here and let the government’s proposal go unchallenged while you spend the next 20 minutes trawling Facebook, watering the plants, watching a bit of TV, washing your hair...
...or, you can keep reading and use that 20 minutes to make a personalised submission. Why? Because it’s your right, it’s your ocean, it’s your democracy and it’s your future.
So do it now or set aside some time in your calendar between now and Friday the 31st Jan. Here are some guidelines and info to make the whole process easy as.
What’s it all about?
Through this proposal the government is trying to make exploratory oil drilling (the riskiest stage) a non-notified activity. This means that the oil industry will be able to drill oil wells in the deep water on our continental shelf without even telling the public that it is going to do so or giving the public a chance to critique its plans.
Recent events reveal that we cannot trust the EPA to do its work behind closed doors. At the end of last year Greenpeace took the EPA (and Anadarko) to the High Court over what we believed were shonky practices. The EPA had not even asked Anadarko for its oil spill plans as part of the environmental impact assessment required under the law. Some of the documents, referred to in the assessment, were simply missing. We said that was not acceptable.
This Bill will set a precedent. What’s next if the government makes deep water oil drilling non-notified, removing our right to have a say. We must protect the democratic process surrounding dangerous projects that may adversely affect us.
You need to address Amy and let her know what you’re writing about:
“Dear Minister Adams,
Please consider this my submission on the Proposal for Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf (Environmental Effects—Non-Notified Activities) Regulations 2013.”
So now you need to make an impassioned yet informed, coherent and evidence-based argument for why you think this proposal is NUTS.
Here’s some info and facts plus some suggested texts to help you out. You just need to add your personal touch.
Suggested points to include
1. Insist that oil drilling must be a notified activity.
Suggested submission text: Oil drilling cannot be a non-notified activity. It is simply too dangerous and the effects too widespread for decisions to be made behind closed doors. I do not want to see oil washing up on our beaches, I do not want the ocean environment to be polluted and I do not want the extraction of more dangerous fossil fuels risking a healthy climate future.
Context: If it is made non-notified, the public, concerned stakeholders and groups will have no opportunity to comment, be heard, call evidence, cross examine witnesses or appeal decisions on any proposed oil exploration activities. Exploratory drilling is the most dangerous part of oil production and adding the challenges of drilling in very deep water compounds the risks. With this level of risk the NZ public must be able to have a say.
Evidence to back your argument up: Deep water oil exploration is dangerous. The Deepwater Horizon was engaged in exploratory drilling at similar extreme depths to that off NZ’s coasts when it exploded and sank in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010. That resulted in 4.9 million barrels of oil being spilled into the sea causing untold harm to wildlife and costing over $40 billion in clean-up costs.
2. The precautionary approach requires that uncertainty and inadequate information must be considered
Suggested submission text: The precautionary approach means that measures must be taken to prevent environmental harm where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage and lack of full scientific certainty. This means that oil drilling must be notified and a full hearing held to assess possible effects and measures to control the effects, including preventing the activity if warranted.
Context: Section 34 of the EEZ Act says that when developing regulations, the Minister must take into account any uncertainty or inadequacy in the information available.
Evidence to back your argument up: We know very little about deep water oil drilling and the EPA did not even ask Anadarko for its oil spill plans as part of the environmental impact assessment required under the law. Some of the documents, referred to in the assessment, were simply missing.
3. The public have a right to be consulted.
Suggested submission text: The New Zealand Government must allow public consultation on all deep water oil drilling. Public participation is a right. I insist in having a say in matters relevant to my community, environment, health and well-being.
Context: Closing off the consenting regime to the public raises serious concerns around public law and fairness. It does not allow for transparency nor does it ensure an appropriate level of oversight. It risks our ocean, coasts and well-being as well as government accountability, transparency and responsiveness. It threatens the integrity of our democracy.
OK so sign it off with your name and contact details. You can also add a request to be heard by the parliamentary select commission: Add “I want to be heard in support of this submission.”
Address your envelope to: Ministry for the Environment, P O Box 2526, Wellington 6140 and get it to the post box. This is the most crucial step. Submissions kicked under the bed or left wilting on the kitchen table will not be heard.
Or if you typed it up then email to:
For more information on the Bill, visit http://www.mfe.govt.nz/issues/oceans/current-work/questions-and-answers-2013.html
Happy submission writing!