Log it, mine it, burn it

By   /   May 10, 2017  /   18 Comments

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Another term of office of this government would see exploitation of our remaining natural resources and environmental damage on a larger scale, all in the name of short term profits for a few. There are better alternatives. We need a change of direction towards a fairer and more sustainable economy. We need a new government, with the Greens at its heart.

The government is making plans to ramp up the mining of our land, forests and seas if they are re-elected. Over recent months we have seen new initiatives for logging, mining, oil exploration and fossil fuel power stations. Unless we change the government, we are likely to see more exploitation of our natural resources by foreign corporations and more damage to our environment.

As an example, the government has been opening the door to logging native forests. In 2014, the government abused Parliamentary processes to ram through changes under urgency to the Conservation Act, initially for windblown timber. But it has recently been revealed that this is part of a longer term plan to extend this and allow Ministerial discretion to open up logging of old growth forest in reserves and conservation land. The initial push is for logging on steep slopes of the Grey Valley and around Lake Brunner on the West Coast of the South Island.

This is being coupled with attempts to weaken  the Forests Act which controls the export of native logs. The shady dealing in the export of Northland kauri swamp logs under the pretence that they are ‘manufactured” shows the pattern of ripping out our valuable natural resources with little economic benefit.

The government is also planning to open up mining on conservation land. It has been revealed that the Government is planning to open up areas of the West Coast’s Buller Plateau for open-cast and underground coal mining. This follows the debacle over the Bathurst-owned Escarpment mine on the Denniston plateau. After a lengthy court battle, the mine was mothballed in 2016 after a major user (Holcim Cement) moved away from the West Coast, and after coal prices continued to plummet. The damage to the fragile environment remains.

The government still hasn’t seen the writing on the wall for coal, having wasted millions of dollars of taxpayers’ funds on Solid Energy, as well as continuing the suffering for families of the miners who lost their lives in the Pike River disaster. Mining coal in New Zealand is an economic and environmental disaster. I joined more than 50,000 people who marched down Queen Street against mining on conservation land, and I know the protests will be even bigger in future.

The government is also subsidising the depletion of our oil and gas reserves. Not only is $46 million provided for oil exploration tax breaks and subsidies, the Green Party has revealed that the government has an obligation to pay over $800 million for decommissioning oil rigs. Despite signing the Paris Agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, a massive block has been opened up for oil exploration, including one third of the habitat of the 63 remaining Maui dolphin and the shores of Lake Te Anau. This is like investing in stones at the end of the Stone Age.

Adding insult to injury, a consent has been issued for a new gas-fired power plant in the Waikato, ignoring strong local opposition, including from mana whenua at the nearby Kahotea marae. The government has forced through rules in the Resource Management Act that do not allow consideration of climate change. So much for the government’s PR spin about increasing renewable energy.

The government’s trade agenda would lock in these contracts with foreign investors to exploit our resources. Agreements like the TPPA and others allow foreign investors to take the government to an international tribunal and demand compensation for lost profits if contracts are curtailed to conserve our resources and protect the environment.

This government is needlessly destroying our ancient native forests, threatening the survival of endangered species, increasing greenhouse gas emissions and undermining democratic processes in the pursuit of misguided notions of economic growth for the few. There are better options than these destructive policies. There are more jobs and opportunities in tourism and processing natural products associated with conserving our environment than short term jobs from destroying it. We can benefit more from loving nature than destroying it.

At the heart of the extraction mindset is a failure of economics. The money from selling off our resources gets counted but the depletion of our natural assets and the associated environmental damage is ignored. This is fertile territory for a government desperate to pump up economic growth figures.

Another term of office of this government would see exploitation of our remaining natural resources and environmental damage on a larger scale, all in the name of short term profits for a few. There are better alternatives. We need a change of direction towards a fairer and more sustainable economy. We need a new government, with the Greens at its heart.

Barry Coates is a Green Party list MP, based in Auckland.

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18 Comments

  1. Sally's Husband says:

    “The government is also planning to open up mining on conservation land. It has been revealed that the Government is planning to open up areas of the West Coast’s Buller Plateau for open-cast and underground coal mining. This follows the debacle over the Bathurst-owned Escarpment mine on the Denniston plateau. After a lengthy court battle, the mine was mothballed in 2016 after a major user (Holcim Cement) moved away from the West Coast, and after coal prices continued to plummet. The damage to the fragile environment remains.’

    This is a govt that has learned NOTHING from the last few decades of global warming.

  2. saveNZ says:

    Great post! Nice to see the Greens getting more active in this debate and what the government is up too!!!

  3. Lois Griffiths says:

    Add to that, America foreign policy: BOMB IT!

    • CLEANGREEN says:

      Best to vote them out this toxic Nactional disaster.

      Yes the country cannot afford another three years of rape & plunder of our resources and environment.

      Simon Bridges is a pillock as he may not support funding for any Provincial rail. that needs support before they are being forced to close and be used for cycleways!!!!!

      Do they know how much pollution one truck cause to the environment????

      One truck pollutes 100 times ore than one car does with exhaust emissions. (NIWA)

      Then there is the road runoff pollution from the 30 odd truck tyres on each truck emitting dust particulates that are all petroleum based very toxic cancer/neurotoxins (1,3, Butadiene & styrene) that cause death to our waterways and all animal life including ours!!!!

      Iwi in Gisborne that are related to Simon Bridges are seeking money in the budget for restoration of the Gisborne rail service which is needed urgently for log movement and other export from Gisborne to other regions by rail to Napier Port.

      Kiwirail are not able to support rail service as they are cash strapped and will only allow the rail to have bikes on it.

      If bridges doesn’t provide a financial lifeline for reinstatement for the rail service the regions will suffer dramatic loss of industry and jobs and a recession that will affect his Iwi and others also.

      Gisborne is a province National will lose, if he Bridges does not financially assist rail services to an expanding export region here.

      Six Gisborne based industries have recently run a one page article in the Gisborne Herald calling for options to use rail for their export driven activities.

      Will Simon Bridges listen?

      We will know on 25th May 2017.

      Then in September many there will vote accordingly.

  4. Mike in Auckland says:

    Anything that is not nailed down can be sold, that is what this government is all about, and sadly, the mostly urban NZers, living in detachment from our last remnants of NZ’s natural environment, are too busy with their consumerist lifestyles, and with trying to climb the career ladder in this neoliberal society, so they only pay somewhat little attention to what the government does in regards to mining and exploiting the oceans for minerals or other raw materials.

    I must give credit to those at Greenpeace who fight for the environment and endangered species, as they are the ones that have committed to this fight, few others do. At least some donate some money for them.

    We live in a world where more and more people become detached, live in their own bubbles, and so we get endless division, also misinformation through fake news and what else there is.

    It is time to revive the environmental movement, I think, the Greens have to some degree shot themselves in the foot, by focusing more on their work in Parliament, as that forum limits so much what can be said and done, it actually turns most people in the public off.

    We need more activism, from all that are concerned about the environment, as otherwise, given the way things are going, we may as well give up and resign.

    Myrtle Brush has invaded this country now, carried by wind, many other diseases and environmental threats come in regularly now, due to the massive trade of goods that come in in containers, that are only checked in a tiny fraction.

    We have massive increases in tourism and immigration, and people get caught all the time, with plant and other species, that they try to smuggle in here. Some carry potential diseases and so, and carry a huge risk not only to local farming and horticulture, they can lead to widespread destruction of our native environment, that bit that is still left.

    The Ministry of the Environment and the Ministry of Conservation deserve a massive injection of funding, also Customs to ensure, that our environment is protected and can survive.

    If this will not happen, we may as well abolish all of them, and let the inevitable happen, that most native plant and animal species become extinct, and make room for more mono-culture of agricultural and other products that the capitalist market wants to produce for the growing global demand.

    Humans are on their way to self destruct, that is how I see the present state of affairs, we must act now, act firmly and decisively, or we may as well pack in.

    • Mike in Auckland says:

      Myrtle rust that is, just one of the new threats we face, but who cares, most travel on Fakebook, Twitter, Snapchat and what else there is, in fake worlds, that have become real to them, never mind the reality around them:
      http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/farming/92363239/fungal-threat-to-pohutukawa-and-manuka-likely-to-hit-taranaki

      We live in insane times.

      • Jack Ramaka says:

        I believe it has probably been brought in on undeclared plant material from South America as that is where the disease has originated from ?

        • Mike in Auckland says:

          Or rather from Australia, some Pacific island, the US or Mexico, where it has also spread:

          http://www.issg.org/pdf/inv_of_week/ureran.pdf
          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uredo_rangelii

          It is hard to believe that spores will be carried by wind that easily over thousands of kilometres, although it cannot be totally ruled out.

          My sad assessment is that the natural environment of New Zealand, as it was before the Europeans came here, and even as it still exists in some parks and islands now, will eventually be destroyed, due to the continued, apparently unstoppable invasion of ever more species and diseases from overseas.

          We can thank the high levels of global goods transports, the high level of air and sea travel in the form of tourists and other persons, for this to happen. There is NO way we will be able to totally stop myrtle rust and other diseases coming here over coming decades and centuries, and many if not most local trees and so will eventually disappear, same as the Kiwi and other birds.

          In the competition between trade and development, consumerism and environmental protection on the other side, the environment will lose, and eventually humanity will lose.

          Tell that a detached, mostly urban, consumerist society that does not understand the threats, and you will not get all that much willingness to make the sacrifices needed to bring about the urgently needed change.

  5. Kim dandy says:

    I always believed New Zealanders had a strong desire to look after their environment – in fact during this governments looooong destructive terms, I have seen many groups arise trying to protect various different aspects of the New Zealand environment.
    Here’s hoping these groups, along with the greens, have raised enough awareness out there to cause a change of this slash and burn government.

    • Mike in Auckland says:

      It is mostly empty words by Kiwis, once faced with the jobs or greens argument, most sell their souls, that is the truth.

  6. Kevin says:

    National is polling at 46% support ,kiwis just don’t care about the environment in large enough numbers to vote this dog of a government out of office.

    • Mike in Auckland says:

      I regret that you are right, but that is exactly how I see things also.

  7. WILD KATIPO says:

    I posted regarding Pike River on The Standard regarding this article :

    ‘Andrew Little: Together, we will fight for justice for Pike families ‘

    * I thought it may provide historical perspective and the long term motives of this govt and preceding neo liberal govt’s before that.

    ……………………………………………………………………

    The “in-ground resource value” of New Zealand’s extensive ironsand deposits could be between $1 trillion and $5 trillion, says state-owned energy company Solid Energy.

    The iron ore contained in ironsands off the west coast of the North Island has been estimated to be worth a trillion dollars, but Solid Energy chief executive Don Elder said that “the industry view is increasingly that (the value) could be substantially greater than that”.

    The final value would depend on the price of steel, and the availability of technology to smelt ironsands, he told Parliament’s commerce select committee yesterday.

    “Resources are attracting margins or profits in the order of 20 percent of the revenue.”

    Prices seen in 2008 would mean profit margins of 50 percent or “significantly higher” could be available from ironsands.

    A New Zealand-based company, Trans Tasman Resources Ltd (TTR), and overseas rivals are looking at exploiting New Zealand ironsands, and TTR has suggested that a domestic steel mill could use local high-grade coking coal to refine the ironsands.

    Dr Elder said Chinese companies had cheaper labour and capital and could do such projects faster, but New Zealand had an advantage in the availability of the water needed for such a refinery.

    “If you could process those in New Zealand, it’s a much much better value opportunity and would certainly compete with doing the same thing in China under the right circumstances, with the right technology”.

    …………………………………………..

    There are many overseas company’s eyeing up those same resources , as well as NZ ones. Opencast mining is cheaper to conduct and – less prone to negative publicity such as the tragedy at Pike River. You will also recall when John Key first came to power, he and Gerry Brownlee were keen to exploit the minerals in our national parks . However the rest of us were not and the momentum was lost. But they haven’t given up the dream of invasive activity’s in our National Parks to provide short term gains for the elites , however,…

    And as an example of what I meant , I posted this directly below :

    ……………………………………………

    BTW :…

    Pike River was ONE of the mines that was envisioned to help supply that ‘high quality coking coal’ for the NZ iron sand smelting process….

    As well… the same company that owned the Upper Big Branch mine in West Virginia , USA , … that had a similar methane /coal dust explosion killing 29 workers with only 2 escaping ( just like Pike River) … several months before Pike River – ALSO HAD FINANCIAL INTERESTS IN PIKE RIVER.

    Go figure , people !!!

    There’s a lot more riding on this whole thing than meets the eye with some pretty powerful local and offshore vested interests who are working to ensure Pike River evidence never gets to see the light of day.
    ……………………………………………

    ( Update : Bathhurst Resources was a direct investor in Pike River Coal Mine – which has DIRECT RELEVANCE to the articles in today’s news in the articles below ….)

    ……………………………………………

    NOW WE SEE THIS RECENTLY ,… in the NZ Herald – AND hot on the heels of the latest release on Pike River :

    Forest & Bird says Government has secret mining plans for Denniston …
    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11848323

    ‘Secret’ coal mining plans on the West Coast alarm Forest & Bird | Stuff …
    http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/92107750/Secret-coal-mining-plans-alarm-Forest-Bird

    Forest & Bird says Government has secret mining plans for Denniston …
    mining.einnews.com/…/378838187-forest-bird-says-government-has-secret-mining-p.

    ……………………………………………

    And historically , – the Forest and Bird Society know all too well how these deceptive mining operators work through Government.

    Forest & Bird Magazine 352 May 2014 by Forest & Bird – issuu
    https://issuu.com/forestandbird/docs/forest___bird_magazine_352_may_2014

  8. WILD KATIPO says:

    Oh , and just in case you are wondering what neo liberalism is , – and who were its pseudo far right wing sponsors and motivators , read again this article ( first one ) by the late Hugh Price of Price Publishers . It is a damning article on neo liberal ideology and its founders .

    And you will be quite alarmed.

    The other two links back up what Hugh Price had researched and provided.

    * New Right Fight – Who are the New Right?
    http://www.newrightfight.co.nz/pageA.html

    * Thule Society – Wikipedia
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thule_Society

    * Young Hitler – Excerpts Appendix | The Thule Society
    http://www.younghitler.com/thule_society.htm

  9. Afewknowthetruth says:

    The bankers’ Ponzi scheme demands that the future be sacrificed for the present. The bankers’ Ponzi scheme demands the mathematically impossible concept of infinite growth on a finite planet be pushed until the environment collapses (which is not far off now, after over 300 years of exploitation by bankers and opportunists).

    It would not make a scrap of difference of the government were composed entirely of ‘Green’ MPs because the international bankers would not allow their Ponzi scheme to be dismantled, and ‘Green ‘ MPs are all in favour of Ponzi schemes anyway!

    The current living arrangements of the bulk of the populace are both completely unsustainable and utterly destructive. Try telling that to your average fuckwit MP or your average utterly misled Kiwi.

    MPs lost all respect when it took them over 30 years (US Surgeon General’s report 1969) to take completely ineffective action on the matter of cigarette smoking.

  10. Sylvia Allan says:

    Please check your facts about local iwi attitudes to the gas-fired Waikato Power Plant.u

  11. Helena says:

    Clean water is now listed as a “need” rather than a “right” (thanks to Nestle https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mUK8NmdcKvc ) and, thanks to our government, our fresh water is being stolen right out from under our noses http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/78652406/The-bottled-water-giants-who-are-taking-our-water
    We are left with dirty dregs to swim in and drink – chlorinated, of course.

    • Jack Ramaka says:

      This Government isn’t particularly smart when it comes to watershed management ?