The Unequal Battle for the Environment: Update On Mangatawhiri Hearings, 3 September

Jeanette Fitzsimons follows up her earlier report, Second Elephant Needed at Mangatawhiri:

Today there was no elephant, despite the need for two. It just shows how hard it is for unpaid voluntary activists to be there all the time at a hearing like this – an hour’s drive from where most anti-coal people live, during working hours. No-one was available today to be the elephant. Most were preparing to give their submissions.

It was also child care time. Our own Marisa, pregnant with her twins, had her pre-school son there and was diverting him with his own video screen and an apple and frequent trips outside, at the same time as trying to record our submitters and witnesses.

(Here’s a request from Marisa: If you’re on Facebook, please Like the climate elephant!)

Fonterra’s lawyers had no such constraints – on well paid time, transport and meals funded, children, if they have any, being cared for elsewhere. Such is the unequal battle for the environment.

Some interesting issues that arose include: can a financial agreement with an affected person absolve the firm from meeting standards for dust pollution at that person’s home? What about if they sell it? What about people who visit? that issue is flagged to come back on the table for discussion.

There is no baseline data for the state of the environment before the coal mine. They propose to monitor levels of dust and noise but how can we know what is caused by the mine if there is no date from before? They propose to monitor for a month before, to establish such data. This is a nonsense. We need at least a couple of years’ data to see what happens in every weather and season.

All this of course would be unnecessary if we looked a little wider and adopted a renewable fuel technology that leaves the coal in the hole and uses a fuel that is renewable and clean and currently being wasted. That is the substance of CANA’s submission today. The first part is just legal argument that our concerns are relevant. the second part outlines an alternative scenario to avoid the mine.

Our witness John Gifford gave it weight with his experience and knowledge:

We were not prevented from presenting this, but the chair has said he thinks it is not relevant and will give it little or no weight. The legal argument is designed to make him think again about this.

The hearing adjourned at lunchtime and reconvenes again tomorrow at 9am

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