UK Labour ‘chaos’

More from Missy in the UK.

This morning the UK woke up to some of the media discussing the ‘chaos’ of yesterday at the Labour Party Conference with the media focussing on the allegation that the Shadow Defence Minister (sorry not Secretary as I reported yesterday) punched a wall in anger after he gave his speech in response to it being changed at the last minute by Corbyn’s aides (as reported yesterday) .

Corbyn this morning cancelled all of his media appearances for today, officially due to diary management issues, but speculation is rife that the real reason is so that he isn’t questioned about yesterday, and in particular Trident.

Yesterday it was announced that Labour’s policy for energy will be to completely ban fracking – this is in opposition to the unions who say many of their members will lose jobs, today the replacement policy was announced. Corbyn has indicated that under Labour the UK will return to coal mining – presumably to return to coal fired energy. Nothing reported as yet on how the environmentalists see this, nor has it been explained how this will be de-conflicted with Labour’s stated clean air policy.

McDonnell yesterday indicated that if Labour were to win the next election there would be a return to 70’s style socialist economic policies. This combined with the idea of returning to coal mining has some in the media talking about a return to the past under Labour.

Today has been no less eventful, so just some highlights below.

Sadiq Khan addressed the conference, I won’t go into the details, but the gist of his speech was how he is the most successful Labour politician at the moment, and the party need to follow his lead to become electable.

The NEC voted on whether to allow representatives from Scotland and Wales Labour Parties to join the committee, this is opposed by Corbyn and his supporters as it is seen as potentially reducing Corbyn’s power in the NEC, as he fears that the Welsh First Minister (Labour) and the Scottish Labour leader will choose moderates, thus diluting and reducing his already small majority. This move is part of reforms by the respective Labour parties which will give them greater autonomy in having an independent voice on the NEC. The vote went in favour of the reforms, and the Scottish and Welsh Labour parties will now be able to have a representative on the NEC.

Labour has provided their support to a referendum on the terms of Brexit. This is seen by some as a concession to Owen Smith who supports a second referendum on the EU. This will not be popular amongst many voters, nor is it a policy that they will have to follow through on, as Brexit is expected to be pretty much completed (if not fully completed) by the time the next General Election rolls around in just over 3 years.

Tom Watson addressed the party this afternoon, and in it he launched a passionate defence of Blair and Brown – something that won’t go down well with Corbyn or his supporters, who hate Blair and Brown.

Fracking fractured in Labour

There appears to be a significant fracture within Labour on oil drilling and fracking.

Shane Jones, Labour’s regional development spokesman, has starkly differentiated Labour from the Greens on oil and gas exploration – see Jones distances Labour from Greens on oil and gas.

But it seems he has also separated himself from Labour’s own Energy spokesperson, Moana Mackey, who seems to lean towards Green policies.

Jones has been visiting Taranaki with Andrew Little, talking to people in the oil and gas industry as Stuff reports in Labour duo keen to talk jobs and growth.

Offshore oil and gas drilling was an essential feature of domestic and export growth, Mr Jones said, and businesses and enterprises enabling it would get full government support.

“Sustainability is as much about sustaining the livelihood of people as it is about guarding the ecological habitat of the Hochstetter’s frog. As long as I am in politics as a Maori politician I am going to be unambiguous in standing up for jobs and people,” he said.

It was “mischievous” to talk about Labour’s policy as designed to suit the Green Party and though he occasionally found common cause with New Zealand First it was only with the aid of a telescope that he might do the same with the Greens.

Jones and Greens seem to be on different energy planets. But it also appears that Jones is following a different energy orbit to his Labour colleague, Mackey.

Labour have scant published policy and nothing on oil drilling or fracking, but in March Mackey released a statement.

Exploration not such a golden opportunity

The government appears to be drawing its economic strategy from reruns of the “Beverly Hillbillies” – crossing its fingers and blindly hoping it will strike oil, Labour’s Energy and Resources spokesperson Moana Mackey says.

“The government should be looking at every opportunity to grow existing businesses in provincial New Zealand and develop new sustainable industries that create well-paid local jobs.

And last year from Mackey:

National’s ‘drill it, mine it, sell it’ approach not the path to economic growth

“This is not where New Zealand’s economic future lies. We need to be investing instead in renewable solutions.

“As a Gisborne-based MP, I know how concerned communities up and down the East Coast are about any expansion of oil and gas exploration in our backyard, in particular the impact on our environment and our tourism industry. And who pays if something goes wrong?

Moana Mackey also questioned whether the controversial practice of hydraulic fracturing or ‘fracking’ was part of TAG Oil’s plans for the East Coast.

“An increasing number of governments around the world are reviewing or banning fracking because of concerns about the safety of the practice and in particular the impact on drinking water supplies.

Mackey sounds far more in line with the Greens on this.

Back to Stuff and Jones:

There was an appetite for such growth in Taranaki but the “anti-development” message was strong on the East Coast, where oil and gas exploration is on the increase, and in the Far North, where he was attending an anti-mining hui next month.

Mr Jones said the Greens, some non-governmental agencies and some hapu were delivering that message.

Labour’s own Energy spokesperson has also been delivering that message.

And just last week Mackey was promoting her member’s bill – Renewable energy bill is the best way forward

A member’s bill that aims to address the Government’s ‘hope and pray’ attitude to tackling climate change would ensure all new base-load electricity generation is from renewable sources,  Labour’s Energy spokesperson, and sponsor of the bill,  Moana Mackey says.

“While renewable generation is currently economic in its own right, this bill provides investment certainty for the sector that a major fossil fuel discovery in New Zealand would not change those economics for base-load generation projects.

What’s going on in Labour? Does anyone talk? Does anyone try to coordinate portfolios and policies?

Clashing with the Greens on drilling and fracking will made a Labour-Green coalition difficult enough. But such big differences within the Labour caucus on an important issue like this seems like bad management and bad presentation – at best.

And it points to a much bigger problem – how fracking fractured Labour are.

Jones distances Labour from Greens on oil and gas

Shane Jones has starkly differentiated Labour from the Greens on oil and gas exploration. He has been reported as saying “Offshore oil and gas drilling was an essential feature of domestic and export growth” and “it would get full government support”.

The Labour regional development spokesman has been visiting Taranaki with Andrew Little, talking to people in the oil and gas industry as Stuff reports in Labour duo keen to talk jobs and growth.

“I am keen to defang these misapprehensions that are abounding that somehow industry has disappeared from our purview.

“Nothing could be further from the truth and if my visit provides the opportunity to reinforce the centrality of jobs, the importance of industry and the need for a future Labour-led government to assuage whatever anxieties might be there in the minds of employers or future investors then I am up for the task,” he said.

Offshore oil and gas drilling was an essential feature of domestic and export growth, Mr Jones said, and businesses and enterprises enabling it would get full government support.

Odd expressions aside, this signals a strong separation between Labour and the Greens on oil and gas. The Greens even used yesterday’s Cook Strait earthquakes as an excuse to express opposition to offshore drilling.

It’s difficult to see how a Labour-Green (and possibly Mana and/or NZ First) government could fully support offshore drilling.

Greens have consistently and strongly opposed off-shore drilling and onshore fracking, two major components of proposed exploration and recovery of oil and gas. Green energy policy includes:

The Green Party supports:

  1. Making all new deep sea drilling within territorial waters, the EEZ and the continental shelf for fossil fuels a prohibited activity (with deep sea defined as below 200 metres).
  2. Placing a 10 year moratorium on hydraulic fracturing for oil and gas within territorial New Zealand, the EEZ and the continental shelf.

The Greens frequently deliver that message strongly – and more, they are actively involved in initiatives to block drilling and fracking.

Jones from Stuff:

“Sustainability is as much about sustaining the livelihood of people as it is about guarding the ecological habitat of the Hochstetter’s frog. As long as I am in politics as a Maori politician I am going to be unambiguous in standing up for jobs and people,” he said.

It was “mischievous” to talk about Labour’s policy as designed to suit the Green Party and though he occasionally found common cause with New Zealand First it was only with the aid of a telescope that he might do the same with the Greens.

As stated by Jones Labour’s aims are diametrically opposed to Green aims and policies. There could be a major clash if a Labour-Green government is to be formed.

And as shown in the next post Jones also seems to be at odds with Labour’s own Energy spokesperson.

MANA on earthquakes and fracking

After an earthquake in Hawkes Bay today a Mana Party candidate issued a statement:

“There’s nothing like a reminder from Ruaumoko why we shouldn’t allow fracking in Ikaroa-Rawhiti” said MANA Candidate Te Hamua Nikora following today’s 4.2 earthquake in Napier.

“I was in Napier when it struck and it freaked me out. We all know that our country sits on fault lines and today was a reminder of that”.

“If ever there was a reason to not allow fracking to take place in Aotearoa, I would have thought being on fault lines would be more than enough. This Government thinks it’s ok to open up the lands and seas of Ikaroa-Rawhiti so that the multinational oil and gas companies can come in and plunder all that they can. Potentially they may cause the odd earthquake and turn our underground water supply into fuel lines. Why take the risk?”

“MANA’s message is simple; Frack Off!”

Maybe it was an opportune sign. Other signs that might be Mana reminders:

  • A rain storm might remind us not to bore for water.
  • A snow storm might remind us not to go skiing.
  • A washout on a road might remind us not to use cars.
  • A landslip on a railyway line might remind us to avoid trains.
  • A tornado might remind us not to have rooves in case they blow off.



Ironic news of the day – fracking

The Green Party has accused Prime Minister John Key of deliberately misleading New Zealand over the fracking issue.

From Key’s fracking speech angers Greens at Stuff.

In his speech Key took aim at the Greens, saying that if they were to be believed, because of fracking New Zealand will go to hell in a handbasket.

“But the truth of the matter is that the practice has been going safely on in Taranaki for the past 30 years without any issues,” he told the opening.

“And last year the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment [PCE] gave it a tick of approval in a preliminary report on fracking. I expect that nothing will change in her final report when it is issued later this year.”

Gareth Hughes:

But yesterday Green Party energy spokesman Gareth Hughes said Key was being misleading and deliberately mischaracterising the interim report.

“Far from giving a tick of approval to fracking in New Zealand, the PCE’s interim report said she had significant concerns about how fragmented and complicated the regulatory environment for fracking is, and about how these rules were being applied,” he said.

“Even if fracking is done safely, oil and gas from fracking is contributing to climate change and is therefore bad for the environment.”

We can’t just suddenly stop using oil and gas.

Fracking can have major environmental benefits, including reducing the number of wells required and reducing the use of more polluting resources like coal.

Hughes pre-empts fracking report with evolving ban demands

The Commissioner for the Environment’s fracking report is due out tomorrow, but some seem to already know what to expect – Stuff is reporting Environment report not likely to seek fracking ban.

Green anti-fracking campaigner Gareth Hughes appears to also know, and is pre-emtping the report with demands:

Green Party energy spokesman Gareth Hughes said if Wright did not make a binding stand on fracking in her report, he would call on the Government to order a moratorium on fracking until the procedure was proven safe.

“Until it can be proven we have got a robust regulatory regime to protect our environment, we shouldn’t be undertaking this massive expansion which is currently planned,” Hughes said.

Earlier this year Hughes and the Greens had called for a racking inquiry, and that’s what they got. At the time they said:

We want the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment to conduct an inquiry into the practice of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) in New Zealand, and to report the results of the inquiry to the House.

They got that, so they said…

Frack No!

The Parliamentary commissioner for the Environment recently announced that she will be undertaking an enquiry into fracking.

This is great news, but in the meantime we need a moratorium on new fracking wells until the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment can assure us it is safe.

That sounded more like a wish for a ban rather than an inquiry, but that they hoped the inquiry would deliver what they wanted.

In August NZ Herald published a column by Hughes – Fracking not a sensible choice for NZ – again that didn’t sound inquiry orientated, he had made up his mind to have no fracking. He concluded:

The Government should wait until the parliamentary commissioner for the environment can assure the public that fracking is safe before allowing a massive fracking expansion to occur.

So he was still hoping the inquiry would effectively deliver the ban he wanted. He also said:

The majority of both sides of this argument admit that more information and research is needed on the New Zealand context of this debate.

Wasn’t that what the inquiry was for?

And in October: Lack of fracking data worries Greens

And today if the report doesn’t give him his ban Hughes “would call on the Government to order a moratorium on fracking until the procedure was  proven safe”.

He’s now calling for a ban regardless of the outcome of the inquiry. It was widely presumed he didn’t just want an inquiry, he wanted a ban and thought an inquiry would deliver for him.

By calling for another inquiry? Are about to hear there wasn’t enough data for the one about to be released?

Fracking in the US

Here’s a slightly edited description of fracking in the US (posted as a comment by Steve (North Shore) on Kiwiblog):

There are several different types of fracking jobs. Slickwater, CO2, Nitrogen, and Gel fracks are the most common. Slickwater is the basic frac job – a stage usually takes about 150,000 to 200,000 gallons of water, and around 150,0000 lbs of sand. (of course, this can vary due to the depth of the gas formation – very deep wells will use more water).

A well has multiple stages – 12, 15, 20 – depends on the formation they want to get the gas from. Around here, we’re usually pumping at 6000psi to get the water and sand into the formation, and pumping the stage takes around 2 hours.

The chemicals used in slickwater, co2, and nitrogen jobs are very safe to work with. Co2 and Nitrogen jobs are a little bit more dangerous than slickwater fracs due to the explosive expansion capabilities of liquid co2 and nitrogen – but dangerous to the frac hands, not the public.

Gel jobs are a bit of a different bird – the chemicals are a bit nastier. We’re not using a lot of chemicals on the job, tho – think in terms of 1/4 or 1/2 gallon of chemical per 1000 gallons of water pumped. Think of it like this – no one will survive drinking a gallon of bleach. Dump a gallon of bleach into a swimming pool, and you can drink it all day long…
The only chance for gas and gas byproducts to migrate is if the well and casing are compromised. The formations we are pumping into are a mile or two under ground, and theres an impermeable barrier of bedrock between the formation and any water table. If the well and casing get ruptured, tho, gas can seep up the line and contaminate water tables, so the company will pull the string and re-run the line and casing.

Failures in the casing/well are pretty rare, but all wells are monitored for just this eventuality. In my 5 years of working, I’ve only seen one well in which we couldn’t frac because the pressure readings indicated a problem with the casing.

Some of the weird Greenies here think fracking caused the earthquakes in Christchurch.

No problem – and they’re talking about injection wells. After a frack, they flow back the well. Basically, after the frack, the pressure of the gas in the formation pushes the water that they fracked with back out of the well and into tanks or storage ponds.

Some of the water is “pressed”, or filtered and used again. If you need to get rid of a ridiculous amount of water, you drill an injection well and pump it down a mile or two underground.

There is a veeery tenous connection between injection wells and mild earthquakes.

20 year low emissions due to fracking and market forces

The Associated Press reports on US emission reductions:

AP IMPACT: CO2 emissions in US drop to 20-year low; some experts optimistic on global warming

In a surprising turnaround, the amount of carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere in the U.S. has fallen dramatically to its lowest level in 20 years, and government officials say the biggest reason is that cheap and plentiful natural gas has led many power plant operators to switch from dirtier-burning coal.

Many of the world’s leading climate scientists didn’t see the drop coming, in large part because it happened as a result of market forces rather than direct government action against carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas that traps heat in the atmosphere.

Better ways of recovering gas leads to lower energy prices:

While conservation efforts, the lagging economy and greater use of renewable energy are factors in the CO2 decline, the drop-off is due mainly to low-priced natural gas, the agency said.

A frenzy of shale gas drilling in the Northeast’s Marcellus Shale and in Texas, Arkansas and Louisiana has caused the wholesale price of natural gas to plummet from $7 or $8 per unit to about $3 over the past four years, making it cheaper to burn than coal for a given amount of energy produced. As a result, utilities are relying more than ever on gas-fired generating plants.

More gas used, less coal (from about a half to about a third):

Both government and industry experts said the biggest surprise is how quickly the electric industry turned away from coal. In 2005, coal was used to produce about half of all the electricity generated in the U.S. The Energy Information Agency said that fell to 34 percent in March, the lowest level since it began keeping records nearly 40 years ago.

And one of the reasons why the use natural gas is increasing is fracking. Therefore…

U.S. Carbon Dioxide Emissions at 20-Year Low Thanks to Fracking

Lots of environmental activists dislike cheap natural gas because it outcompetes their first loves, photovoltaic and wind power. It spooks the nuke folks too. I noted a Washington Post headline back in February that actually read: “Cheap Gas Jumbles Energy Markets, Stirs Fears that It Could Inhibit Renewables.”

I ask again: Can an energy source be all that bad if it scares the two most heavily subsidized sectors of the electric power generation industry?


None of Dunedin Council’s fracking business!

Dunedin City Council has voted 7-6 to support calls for a moratorium on fracking.

DCC backs fracking moratorium

I think this is disgraceful from the council.

My complaint has nothing directly  to do with fracking,  that is properly under investigation by the Commision of the Environment.

But I have major concerns over why the Dunedin City Council is involving itself in national politics.

DCC has no expertise in drilling or fracking, and it has no direct interest in it. Dave Cull said in April: “It is Regional Councils that issue Resource Consents for activities that might include fracking.”

Cull also said:

Council had a presentation at Public Forum on the subject and as a result asked staff to produce a report covering known information.

That hasn’t been completed yet. Four Councils around the country have asked the government to put a moratorium in place on fracking while the Commissioner for the Environment conducts her enquiry.

The suggestion is that we also show support for a moratorium while that investigation is done.

So at the instigation of a very small pressure group the council uses city resources and council time to make symbolic votes and statements. There has been no public consulation that I’m aware of.

A DCC website search reverals…

Your search for fracking returned 0 results

…nothing – because it has nothing to do with them.

This appears to be a blatant abuse of local government and democracy. The council should act for and speak for the people of Dunedin, and should not be used for personal political purposes.

Who has driven this in council? Is it a case of the mayor using his position to promote his preferences in national political issues? The council is not for his use as a personal sopabox, it should be representing the people of Dunedin, on local government matters.

I’m calling on a moratorium on the mayor and the Dunedin City Council using city time and resources on something that is none of their fracking business.

Previous posts:

What the frack?

Facting fracking

Dunedin fracking procedures

Hughes calls for tracking ban until facts known

Green Gareth Hughes is calling for a moratorium on all tracking until “people’s health and safety can be guaranteed”.

Whistle-blowing MP Gareth Hughes has called on tracking to be halted in New Zealand while Parliament’s environmental watchdog carries out a top-level investigation into the controversial transportation industry process.

The process involves the high-pressure injection of diesel into combustion chambers to help release energy.

Its opponents claim it is responsible for the poisoning of air supplies and has led to chronic collisions of residents traveling within tracking zones.

While welcoming the inquiry, Hughes said all tracking in New Zealand should be banned until questions were answered about its possible impacts.

“We are on the cusp of a massive expansion … until we can be assured the practice is actually safe, now is the best time to have a breather and a moratorium on new tracks. It makes sense to wait until the results of this report before we allow new trains to go ahead.”

Minister of Transport Gerry Brownlee revealed to the Star-Times two months ago that tracking had been occurring in New Zealand since the early 1860s.

Hughes said that permits had been approved for 4,128 kilometres of New Zealand land to be tracked on.

That concerned him, saying new tracking permits could be granted despite the PCE possibly finding against the process in her report.

“In the last year we have seen a 170 per cent increase in the rate of new carriages compared to the average rate for the previous 18 years.

“If you look at our history, it has been pretty static. We have had 30 to 40 trains. Now if Green Party policy is to be implemented, that trend is just going to go up and up,” he said.

“It could be too late by the time the Parliamentary Commissioner reports back to make sure the consents are adequate, the regulations are up to scratch and people’s health and safety can be guaranteed.”