We Won’t Back Down: Greenpeace activists charged under Anadarko Amendment head to trial

Press release - October 5, 2017
The Greenpeace activists charged for putting themselves in the water in front of the world’s largest seismic oil ship have told the Government that they won’t back down, and will now face trial.

The trial, which will take place from 30 April 2018, was announced in the Napier District Court this morning, where Greenpeace Executive Director Dr Russel Norman, and volunteer Sara Howell, appeared after being charged for the first time in New Zealand under the ‘Anadarko Amendment’.

The pair have pleaded Not Guilty.

“To paraphrase the late, great Tom Petty: We won’t back down, we will stand our ground. The future of humanity is at stake in this climate battle against the oil industry and their government,” says Norman.

Earlier this year, Norman and Howell went into the water in front of the Amazon Warrior to stop it from seismic blasting for oil. The ship, owned by oilfield surveyor Schlumberger, was collecting data for oil giants Statoil, OMV, and Chevron.

Alongside Greenpeace, the activists were charged by the oil division of the Government under a 2013 Amendment to the Crown Minerals Act, known as the Anadarko Amendment. They are collectively facing fines of up to $300,000, and Norman and Howell also face a year in jail.

Norman says it was necessary to stop the ship in order to protect people from climate change, which is being driven by the oil industry.

“By stopping this ship blasting our seafloor in search of new deep sea oil, we were stopping a far greater wrong - the destruction of our climate, and the risk to our marine life and coastal communities from a catastrophic oil spill,” he says.

“Every single person and living thing on this planet will be affected by climate change. If we don’t take action now, one in six of the world’s species faces extinction, with New Zealand being one of the most at-risk areas.

“We know what’s right. We’ve got just one life. And we won’t back down.

“The science says that if we are to have any chance of avoiding a climate catastrophe, we can’t afford to burn most of the fossil fuel reserves we know about, let alone search for more. It’s exactly this new oil that these companies are scouring our coasts for.

“To make matters worse, companies like OMV, Chevron and Statoil are almost single handedly responsible for what’s happening to our climate. They're named in the list of only 100 companies in the world that are causing 71% of global emissions.”

Just last week, Schlumberger applied for a license to undertake a further search for oil across almost 19,000 square-kilometres of the Taranaki Basin, including in and around the critically endangered Māui dolphin and New Zealand Blue Whale habitat.

As well as harming whales and dolphins, a recent study published by science journal Nature, shows seismic blasting for oil has devastating effects on the most critical ocean lifeform, zooplankton, with “enormous implications for ocean ecosystem structure and health”.

OMV will one of the major recipients of any information that Schlumberger gathers from this survey.