Norway’s government has not listened to a single piece of advice offered to it by the Norwegian Environment Agency (Miljødirektoratet) calling for a halt to new oil drills, says a new analysis.
The agency has reported to the government 33 times without Erna Solberg’s administration changing its policies, says the report by the Norwegian Society for the Conservation of Nature (Naturvernforbundet).
“When [Solberg’s Conservative party] Høyre calls itself a party of knowledge, it is remarkable that the party consistently fails to follow advice from environmental experts. It has never been so bad,” Naturvernforbundet’s head Silje Ask Lundberg told news agency NTB.
According to the report, the current government led by Solberg has ignored 33 of the 33 environmental advice reports submitted to it since it took over in 2013.
The previous governments, led by Jens Stoltenberg from 2006-2013, rejected 189 out of 237 such reports.
Lundberg said that not just the current government but also its predecessors have “let oil politicies dictate both environmental and climate policies instead of setting limits.”
“The simple answer is that many people want more, and are not willing to let there be a limit to Norwegian oil industry, she said.
Last week, the government gave the green light to 87 new boring locations in the Norwegian Sea and the Barents Sea.
Two of these are very close to an area in the Norwegian Sea where the Norwegian Environment Agency has previously warned against opening oil drilling, with the area only ten kilometres from land and near large deposits of seabirds and marine mammals, as well as important spawning and breeding areas for fish, according to Naturvernforbundet.
The Norwegian Institute of Marine Research has also warned against drilling in these areas, reports NTB.
Even though a decline in the oil industry in recent years cost 45,000 jobs in the industry, it still provides jobs for around 250,000 people.
“Allocation of new exploration areas is a key pillar of the government’s petroleum policy and well-known from our manifesto. It is important to maintain exploration activity, which is vital for future employment, growth and income for the welfare of many people,” minister for oil Terje Søviknes told NTB.
Søviknes added that a broad majority in parliament supported the current government policies of exploration to find new boring sites for oil, and that areas licensed by the government are decided on following an assessment of all viewpoints.
“Parliament has taken its decisions taking into account the viewpoints of environmental agencies,” he said.