Shale Gas and the Future of Energy
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Shale Gas and the Future of Energy

Law and Policy for Sustainability

Edited by John C. Dernbach and James R. May

The rapid growth of shale gas development has led to an intense and polarizing debate about its merit. At the 2012 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, countries around the world concluded that the transition to sustainability must be accelerated. This book asks and suggests answers to the question that has not yet been systematically analysed: what laws and policies are needed to ensure that shale gas development helps to accelerate the transition to sustainability?
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Chapter 11: Sustainable management of onshore recovery of unconventional gas in New Zealand

Trevor Daya-Winterbottom


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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