Published 17 November 2010
Environment Minister Nick Smith introduced the bill to create the new Environmental Protection Authority yesterday.
He told Parliament the country needed an effective authority to provide efficient national-level regulation of environmental issues: "The EPA is about providing stronger central government leadership on environmental issues. The existing framework is too devolved, resulting in the same issues being relitigated across 78 local authorities. It is more efficient & effective for a small country of 4.3 million people to regulate some environmental issues nationally.
"The second objective of the new authority is to give greater clarity to national environmental functions. The Government’s reforms are about the Ministry for the Environment being focused on policy, the EPA on administering regulations and the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment as the overall systems auditor. The EPA brings together under one roof regulatory functions currently administered by the Environment Ministry, the Ministry of Economic Development and the Environmental Risk Management Authority.
"The third rationale for the EPA is to ensure appropriate independence for regulatory functions from ministers. New functions such as national consenting & the administration of the emissions trading scheme are more appropriately done at arm’s length from the Government in an independent Crown entity."
The key regulatory features of the Environmental Protection Authority will be:
national consenting under the Resource Management Act (currently done by the EPA statutory office housed in the Ministry for the Environment)regulation of pesticides, fireworks, explosives & other hazardous substances (currently ERMA)regulation of new & genetically modified organisms (currently ERMA)administrative functions of the emissions trading scheme, including register (currently MED)international obligations on hazardous waste (currently MED)advice to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Trade regarding environmental assessments for Antarctica NZ (currently MfE), andadvice & information on the development & implementation of national environmental standards (currently MfE).
16 October 2009: Environmental Protection Authority opens for business
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Attribution: Ministerial release, story written by Bob Dey for the Bob Dey Property Report.