I too have read the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment’s report (Who buys your art Mr Trubridge? 15/5/13). What is not mentioned by Mr Tremain is that she qualified her ‘safely’ statement by saying “But at this stage I cannot be confident that operational best practices are actually being implemented and enforced in this country.” That’s a pretty big but.
The PCE also asked 6 questions which were specific to the East Coast and we have yet to have these answered. These questions are:
• Given that the area is particularly seismically active, what are the implications for well integrity and the injection of wastewater?
• Has the folding and faulting of the rock layers meant that contamination of groundwater is more likely?
• Will the drilling be vertical or horizontal, as a horizontal well has a much greater likelihood of intercepting vertical faults?
• What does the depth of the shale layers mean for proximity to groundwater and aquifers?
• Given that the east coast is much drier (and frequently suffers from summer drought), where will the water required for fracking be taken from?
• How well would the main waste disposal methods used in Taranaki (landfarming and wastewater injection) translate to the east?
Have these questioned been answered to the PCE’s satisfaction? Have there been any changes to regulations since the release of the PCE’s report? No. Is the industry plough on regardless? Hell yes. Perhaps Mr Tremain should explain to the people of Hawkes Bay, who are eagerly awaiting the PCE’s final report on regulation of Hydraulic Fracturing, why his government has reduced funding to the PCE’s office meaning this report has been delayed.
Luckily for Mr Tremain I have also read the East Coast Oil and Gas Development Study. The study is, as expected, full of good intentions and waxes lyrical on how beneficial the oil and gas industry will be to our economy. However, there is an admission that it will adversely impact on Dairying income (potentially down 8.2%),, and Horticulture income (potentially down 6.1%). It does not even mention what might happen to the income of Hawkes Bay’s largest agriculture sector, sheep & beef, and I have to ask myself, why is that?
The ECO&G Study also states “East Coast Communities will want to make choices about the extent and pace of development and how a range of issues will be managed”. When are we going to given an opportunity to make this choice?