Nobody ever wants an oil spill anywhere in the marine environment, but in terms of acccess and ability to respond, the location and timing of this spill could have been a great deal worse. The vessel ran aground on a reef scarcely 20km from Tauranga, one of our largest, busiest and most modern ports. It occurred in calm weather, and was known about almost immediately. Yet we have still struggled to bring together the necessary expertise and hardware to deal quickly with the crisis.There's little chance of public support for substantial offshore drilling if a minor freighter crash leads to locals having to clean up the mess. The exploration companies ought to pull out something credible demonstrating either capacity to contain a spill or financial capacity to pay for a clean-up should a spill eventuate.
How much worse would the situation be if we were to allow deepwater off shore drilling, which the Energy Minister and her government are so eager to do, and an accident occurred a long way offshore in foul weather.
The American response to the Gulf of Mexico disaster involved hundreds of vessels, and many thousands of military, civilian and volunteer personnel. It also required a second rig to drill the relief well that ultimately enabled the stemming of the oil flow into the waters of the Gulf.
New Zealand does not and will never have that sort of capacity. The oil companies will resist having to take responsibility to provide it.
The Greens' projected share of the popular vote dropped a bit over the weekend, though they're now back up around 9.85%. Expect that price to rise if the Tauranga mess gets worse.