EPA didn't do proper job - Greenpeace

HAMISH MCNICOL
Last updated 13:41 09/12/2013

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The Government's Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) failed to do its job properly when it granted Anadarko consent to look for oil off the Raglan coast, a court has heard.

But the EPA believes it covered everything which needed to be covered "in a form it was satisified with".

Greenpeace last month filed urgent court papers seeking a judicial review to stop the Texas oil giant's work - which exploration ship Noble Bob Douglas began last last month - claiming the EPA erred.

Greenpeace lawyer Issac Hikaka told the High Court in Wellington today that the EPA had not considered several key reports, including documents modelling an oil spill and emergency plans to deal with a slick.

This information was available but not supplied to the EPA, because it did not ask for it, he said.

If the EPA had properly carried out its role it would have asked for the documents, he said.

Three annexes that Greenpeace said were crucial were missing.

"We know they were deliberately left out, because EPA told Anadarko you don't need them," Hikaka said.

The impact assesment report also did not model a potential oil spill going away from New Zealand's shore and into international waters.

"What it lacks is sufficient detail."

Hikaka said the case was about the EPA's role, not whether oil drilling was good or bad.

EPA lawyer Paul Radich said Greenpeace's case was one of "form over content".

No error had been made in law and the EPA was satisfied it had sufficient information in granting consent, he said.

The three missing annexes were not needed as the EPA had all the information it required about the possible effects of an oil spill, Radich said.

Justice Alan MacKenzie said the EPA's case was the risk of an oil spill would be the responsibility of others.

But he questioned if the risk to the environment should form part of EPA's evaluative process.

"The likelihood and scale of the risk, one might expect are material factors."

Radich said the EPA was concerned with all potential effects that would be known to an operator, intended or unintended.

The hearing has been set to be heard today and tomorrow.

Greenpeace called off a sea protest to take the court case and the Green Party has called on Anadarko to stop drilling until the court battle is resolved.

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- Fairfax Media

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