EPA- So dysfunctional its Chief admits to feeling guilty

Minister Nick Smith whose incompetence is behind the dysfunctional EPA

Minister Nick Smith whose incompetence is behind the dysfunctional EPA

RNZ reports that the Environmental Protection Authority was subjected to some blistering criticism at an energy conference in Auckland yesterday. The authority was accused of being poorly focused and very expensive in the way it operates.

Authority Chairwoman Kerry Prendergast proved there was some validity to this criticism by producing a long list of things she thought had to change and the chief executive Rob Forlong said he felt guilty about the expensive fees charged. The EPA is obliged by law to recover costs from companies seeking approval for a project and the sums involved are huge.

“I’ve said it to the Minister, I feel really guilty about charging people between $1 million and $2 million for a piece of paper,” he said. “And sometimes I charge them that sort of money for no piece of paper for a ‘no’.”

The EPA was initially set up in 2009 under the Resource Management Amendment Bill 2009. In May 2011 it passed the final reading in Parliament by 63 votes to 59 with support from National, the Maori Party and United Future. The Act Party withdrew its support after Treaty of Waitangi provisions were added to garner support from the Maori Party. The authority has taken over environmental regulation functions from various other Ministries.

This is just another bureaucratic monster created by National who keep saying they’re going to fix things but end up just making them worse. For years we have heard from National MP’s like Nick Smith that things will be put right in respect of environmental compliance but it never happens.

Operators of the offshore Maari oil well, whose ocean drilling was recently approved by the EPA, were unimpressed at the expense involved in getting clearance to continue their project. Not only did they have to pay $3 million to get the right to keep operating a well that was already pumping, but they had to provide a lot of the authority’s research themselves.

Mr Forlong admitted the authority and the legislation it implements were new and still being worked out.

“Look, this stuff is what happens when you get new legislation, it’s unpleasant, it’s bumpy, it’s miserable for everyone at times, but it is a reality and it is expensive the way we do it in this country.”

Yes, damn incompetent idiots writing dumb incoherent poorly thought out legislation and then voting for it in a parliament of hopeless commercially illiterate stooges. That is exactly how it works and the EPA isn’t the only example.

The exclamation mark to this litany of lunacy is that in order to arrive at a solution, “these and other matters had been conveyed to the Environment Minister Nick Smith, whose officials are looking at the problem”.

Nick Smith is one of the prime movers of the legislation in the first place and the author of so much damage to NZ business. He should leave National and go seek the currently vacant co-leadership of the Watermelon Party. Nothing will change for the better if Smith has anything to do with it. He is a prime example of why National is virtually indistinguishable from the opposition parties it professes to be better than.