OMV, I demand that you stop oil and gas exploration in New Zealand, and give up your drilling permits here immediately.

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Greenpeace has notified the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) of legal action over its dealings with oil giant OMV’s application to drill a high risk, deep water well this summer.

Greenpeace New Zealand Executive Director Dr Russel Norman outlined the planned action to EPA Chief Executive Dr Allan Freeth today.

“Please find attached a letter notifying you of our decision to lodge a Judicial Review of the EPA’s process for dealing with OMV’s applications to drill for deep sea oil off New Zealand’s coast,” Norman wrote.

“We are in a climate and ecological emergency, and the time for polite chats behind closed doors while Government agencies condemn us to a catastrophe is well passed. So it’s off to court – again.”

On Thursday, Norman surprised participants at an EPA conference by handing his planned speaking spot over to a high school student. After taking to the stage, 18 year old Sorcha Carr told the government agency charged with protecting New Zealand’s environment that it had failed.

“Oil drilling has no place in Aotearoa. It threatens entire ecosystems, and the fruits of such labour threatens the future of millions of children around the world and in New Zealand,” she said.

“It’s time to stop hiding behind the greed and profit. It’s time to stand up and tell the truth. As a democratic society, we deserve to know about this process.”

Carr was referring to the EPA’s current closed-door consideration of an application by OMV to drill a high risk well in the Great South Basin, at depths similar to that of the Deepwater Horizon blow out.

The EPA is facing mounting pressure, including a 14,000 strong petition, to hold a public hearing into the application so that local communities, iwi, scientists and businesses can have a say.

Greenpeace’s Judicial Review will challenge the EPA’s decision not to hold a public hearing.

Norman says the EPA has a history of rubber stamping similar applications.

“Over the many years the Authority has been considering oil and gas drilling applications, it has given the green light to every single one of them. There is something very wrong with this picture,” he says.

“More than 3.5% of New Zealand’s population took to the streets last month to demand our Government act on the climate emergency. The people are rising, and it’s time for the EPA to decide which side of history they want to be on.”

Greenpeace has previously launched legal action against the EPA decision to approve seabed mining off the Taranaki Coast.