Law and Policy for Sustainability
New Horizons in Environmental and Energy Law series
Edited by John C. Dernbach and James R. May
Chapter 11: Sustainable management of onshore recovery of unconventional gas in New Zealand
New technologies are being used to supplement conventional oil drilling. In New Zealand they include the conversion of coal into liquid fuels, deep sea oil drilling and hydraulic fracturing. Some technologies have been used for more than 20 years in certain regions and recent evaluation of these activities by the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment indicates that hydraulic fracturing in particular poses a number of environmental threats throughout the project lifecycle. Overall, the Parliamentary Commissioner has concluded that the environmental effects arising from these new technologies can be “managed effectively” provided that “operational best practices are implemented and enforced through regulation”. However, judicial review of the Environmental Protection Authority has resulted in media commentary questioning whether the current regulatory framework in New Zealand (with its bias against public notification) is fit for purpose. This paper will therefore critically explore the tensions between broad assessment of environmental management of these new technologies and practice in New Zealand.
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