Wednesday, February 21, 2018

A Frack’in Flash in the Pan

November 17, 2011 by  
Filed under Main Blog

Hydraulic fracturing is the spreading of fractures in a rock layer caused by the use of a pressurised fluid. Hydraulic fractures may form naturally or may be man-made in order to release petroleum, natural gas, coal seam gas, or other substances for extraction. The technique used is commonly called ‘fracking’.

“Horizontal hydrofracking is a way of tapping shale deposits containing natural gas that were previously inaccessible by conventional drilling. Vertical hydrofracking on the other hand, is used to extend the life of an existing well once its productivity starts to run out. Sort of a last resort.”

Pepeha l Introducing Myself

Ko Ruahine te maunga l The Ruahines are the mountain
Ko Tuki Tuki te awa l The Tuki Tuki is the river
Ko te rau aroha te waka l The plume of love is the boat
Ko nga hau e wha te iwi l The people of the Four Winds is the sub-tribe
Ko Waipukurau a ruakuha te hau kāinga l Waipukurau is the home base
Ko Gail Penney töku ingoa l My name is Gail Penney

Close to Home

Here in my home region of Hawke’s Bay one of the world’s largest independent oil and gas firms, Apache, has teamed with Tag Oil, a Canadian firm active in the Taranaki region, to search for oil and gas. I’m being very intentional. I’m going to view this issue through an Ecologically Sustainable Development (ESD) lens.

The Lens: ESD

The purpose of my using this lens rather than any other one, is because of its commonsense insistence. It’s a no-nonsense, everyday practice so it cuts to the chase. To me, it asks the most pertinent questions. Does ‘fracking’ stack up? Does it meet our human needs while protecting our natural resources and ecosystems?

Among other things, here in New Zealand, “sustainable development gives equal weight to social sustainable development in relation to the economy and environment.” In context and in practice, an ESD lens insists we actively consider and weigh together (often conflicting) economic, social and environmental implications of development.

What an ESD lens doesn’t allow us to do (individually or collectively) is to unconscionably dismiss the risk of serious environmental and social impacts caused by unsustainable economic activity. Stay with me, for as long as it takes in blog posts, while I walk around this issue. It’ll be a learning experience but I’m game if you are. Let’s do it together, one bite at a time.

A Historical Backstory: Claims

Whether we agree or not, to me, this back story has its understanding and therefore this lens trained on the context of The Treaty of Waitangi. And so we begin. This story of ‘fracking’ in Hawke’s Bay begins here for me — where the people and the land are. Come with me, go — you choose.

“There is a long standing doctrine of the common law that when the British Crown acquired sovereignty over a new colony inhabited by indigenous people, the customary rights and practices of those indigenous people in relation to their land holding and other resources was undisturbed by the passage of sovereignty to the Crown.

Except insofar as indigenous practices were inconsistent with the common law or were unreasonable or uncertain. Maori in relation to land and resources, such as fisheries, met the requirements of law in most respects. The idea is not unique to New Zealand. It was recognised by the Supreme Court of New Zealand in a landmark case as early as 1847. The common law rule is known as the doctrine of aboriginal title.”

(Peter Blanchard, ‘Treaty of Waitangi: Implications for the Oil and Gas Industry’)

About that Lens

And like the first time you get new glasses, they take some getting used to. It can be a challenge. That’s fine, I’m patient. If you think it would be useful to open up a forum here in the website, that’s not a problem. I can do that too. Send me an email via the Contact form if you’re interested.


1. Paper: NZ History Net: Te Tiritio o Waitangi: The Treaty of Waitangi by Prof. Hugh Kawharu 2. Free Download – Jeremy Leggett: The Winning of The Carbon War

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