Greens neutralised?

August 8, 2007 at 9:41 am | Posted in Statements | Leave a comment

Two recent announcements by Green Party Minister Eamon Ryan give rise for serious concern.

The first were the minor changes he has declared in the taxation regime governing the oil and gas exploration industry. The Minister has proposed a scaled series of taxes on net profits. Given the extraordinary value of fossil fuels these taxes remain relatively low by international standards. There is no reference to royalties, equity share, carbon taxes nor any apparent proposal to ring-fence these taxes for investment in renewable energy systems. Nor are these tax changes to be made retrospective and cover the only gas find we presently have – the Corrib field.

The Minister has also ruled out his own party’s unanimously approved proposal for an Independent Review of the Corrib gas project. The Minister cites the planning permission which the refinery has received as justification for his inability to review the project. He fails to understand the project as an integrated totality. The project does not have all of its required consents – most notably the pipeline consent. Given that, it is Shell’s own choice to proceed with componets of the project. If one element of the consents required fails then the risk and liability are Shell’s alone to bear. In light of an application for a pipeline consent, the Minister is perfectly entitled to review the overall development.

Rather than being ‘neutral’ as the Minister claims, it appears that he and the Greens have been neutralised. Where is the conviction held prior to the election about doing what is right? The Corrib gas conflict has always required political leadership and courage for it to be resolved. If the Greens cannot deliver on policies directly under their control then what is their purpose in government?

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