Parliamentary Commissioner on Fracking & Taranaki Fracking Regional Council

¬†“Like being a little sick in my mouth”, is how I sometimes feel after reading reports released by the Office of Jan Wright, the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, (PCE).
The language; so flowery. It does not inspire confidence in the impartiality of the Office of the Good Commissioner. I am not questioning the dear lady’s impartiality, the level of impartiality is more than evident thoughout the reports. But I do question the use of emotive language.
Language is such a powerful tool. One might also say it is dangerous in the hands of tools.

I first read a report by the PCE last year The office released a report on 1080 and how good it was at controlling the possum populations. The commissioner set the scene with flowery language and finished by noting “surprise”, at the (low) level of use of 1080.
Me? I am “surprised” at how good a plate of leftover turkey and baked beans tastes at 3am.
However, I don’t think “surprise” is relevant in reports prepared by governement agencies; read mostly by MP’s.¬†
MP’s are easily led. The clues to the desired course of action should be a little harder to unravel to make MP’s earn their pay.

 And for many, sitting in tons of metal hovering in the sky, just feels wrong, too.
Hubris. We wouldn’t be human without it. We wouldn’t be availing ourselves of the Air NZ SkyCouch configuration (a bed in the sky), without a measure of hubris on the part of the Wright Brothers.

It’s a pity the language in the report lets it down. Read further on and there are surprise findings.
These are summarised by Green MP Gareth Hughes, one of the most vocal opponents of fracking.:

Whiskey, Tango, Foxtrot!
Before 2011 resource consent was not required in fracking. The Taranaki Regional Council had no idea what the oil companies were pumping into the ground around my hometown of Stratford.
This does not inspire confidence. But then the Taranaki Council officials are not known for their concern for the health and welfare of the residents.
New Plymouth  Dioxin polluter Ivon Watkins Dow has never shaken concerns about the health of residents who lived in the area until 1987 when production of 245T ceased. Allegations of high rates of Motor Neurone disease, birth defects in the period until 1987 and cancer are still rife within the surrounding communities.
Taranaki officials could have made a case for tracking the health outcomes for the 500 or so families who lived in the streets around the plant that made the herbicide and Agent Orange component. They haven’t.
A mere building consent costs home builders a small fortune and shaves years of ones’ life with the stress,
it is remiss for business consents for industrial processes not to have been issued by this feckless Regional Council.

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