Station de Stroming Ep. 14: Fracking onder Rotterdam Zuid w/ Stop Oliewinning Rotterdam
This is a transcript and translation of the radio interview with Renate from Stop Oliewinning, which took place on July 12th 2022. The episode was broadcast live from the Piet Zwart Academy in Rotterdam.1 In this conversation, we discussed the Nederlandse Aardolie Maatschappij (Dutch Petroleum Company, hereafter NAM), which has been extracting oil underneath Rotterdam South and Barendrecht since 1984 while significantly few residents were aware of this. Now, the NAM’s licence has expired, leading them to file a request for a new permit. The extraction plan presented to this end, includes an expansion and intensification, including the possibility of applying the controversial method called fracking. Granting this permit would mean that the NAM would have permission to drill for oil till the year 2035.
Stop Oliewinning plays an important role in informing residents of the extraction plan, and its risks, consequently legally contesting the approval of NAM’s request for a renewal of its licence. The original plan NAM presented was to drill till 2050. This has already been dismissed, but Stop Oliewinning Rotterdam, like the Rotterdam municipality, does not find this enough. They argue the risks of extraction and fracking for residents and the environment are too big. Together with the municipality of Rotterdam, they are taking the case to the High Court.
1 For the purpose of increasing legibility and clearity, the text has been slightly modified at times. Mostly the additions to the text have been indicated between square brackets.
Renate: At the beginning of December last year, we, the residents of the neighbourhoods Charlois and among other places Schiemond, received a physical letter from the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate (hereafter EKZ). The letter announced the Ministry's plans to renew the NAM’s permit for the extraction of oil under Rotterdam South and Barendrecht, which had been started in 1984. And to be honest, I was very shocked by that. I didn’t even know this was happening in the first place, and after asking around in the neighbourhood, it turns out hardly anyone knew about it except a few who had lived here for decades.
We initially responded; “okay, this is happening under our feet. But what can we do about this?” We really had to do our research since it also is a very technical story. The EZK and NAM organised an [digital] information evening [to elaborate upon the submitted extraction plan] at the end of December which I attended with several neighbours. It was there that we realised a lot of technical jargon was being used. Residents did not feel taken seriously, and neither did I. The question is; what does this mean for me as a resident? Was not really addressed. Nor were the explanations very clear and at times the manner in which the ministry addressed us was a bit arrogant which caused the chatbox to explode during the meeting. People wrote; “What is this?” “I don’t understand anything.” “It is only jargon.” “What does this mean for me?”
Multiple people thought; we are not just going to let this happen. We are going to organise ourselves to challenge this. It was then that I came in contact with a different neighbour - Feline. She said: “Would you like to start an initiative together? We could for example work together with Extinction Rebellion. Look for ways in which to avert this from happening.” Like this, we slowly started. Over time Feline contacted more and more people who wanted to participate. Then we started the initiative [Stop Oliewinning Rotterdam]. We primarily wanted residents to make sure residents were aware of what is happening because many people do not know oil is being extracted underneath Charlois, part of Rotterdam and Barednrecht, and hence are also not aware of the potential risks. So, [the goal of starting Stop Oliewinning Rotterdam] was partly to inform but also to protest against these plans and utilise all resources we can find to do so.
slvi.e: Earlier, you mentioned that the letter you received [from the Municipality], read as if the permit was already granted. Much like –unless suddenly an irrefutable argument is presented– we will continue. Is that the feeling you got from it?
Renate: Actually yes, and I have to say since I was quite shocked at first, I didn't know what to do and wondered about the best way to respond. I really had to delve into it before I actually realised –and I also heard this at the information evening– that you could submit a formal objection (zienswijze). It was not clearly mentioned in the letter. It was not something which made you think you were being listened to as a resident and I think it is quite harmful if you, as a governmental organisation, communicate like this. Look, that we have been informed is a good thing. They could also have not reached out to us so that we would never have found out. But the manner of communication –not only that of the letter but also of the information evening– made me feel, like other neighbours present, that we were not being taken seriously. It does not
really matter to them [the EZK and NAM] how we feel and what concerns we have, which has created frustration.
slvi.e: It reflects a big chiasm between the policy proposed and the people that might be negatively impacted by it, which seems a rather undemocratic way of conducting policy. In a case like this, the people who live in a particular location do not have control over that territory. In addition, it seems unclear what your rights are, for example, the fact that the way to object to the ministry's decision is kept in the shadows.
Personally, what I think you have done very well as Stop Oliewinning [contrary to the EKZ], is not only informing people of the possibility to formally object but also providing clear instructions for how to write such an objection (zienswijze) by circulating a base structure that people are free to make use of but especially to add onto. [Perhaps] also to make sure that the EKZ does not know we all worked together on it, so let's come up with different arguments.
Renate: Also with the idea that the more individual objections, the more time and effort it will cost them [the EZK] because they have to answer them all. So try to find your own arguments.
slvi.e: In the grand scheme of things, I think it's very important that these [bureaucratic] processes and gateways [such as drafting up a formal objection] are translated into ways that are much more accessible for people. Rather developed writing skills or familiarity with the drafting of formal documents should not be a requisite for being able to object. To disagree with something should be the only requirement to file an objection. How you as Stop Oliewinning have managed to make this much less gatekept, I believe is truly as it should be.
Renate: That is really nice to hear indeed because that was also our goal with the action. We realised that we are with many people who either did not know about oil extraction or who do not speak the Dutch language, or in some cases they do, but don't know how to do something like that. Hence we wanted to offer the neighbourhood the option to easily write an objection because, with regards to information position and all the aforementioned factors, they are already 3 points behind in the entire case.
slvi.e: All documents are also solely made available in Dutch, right?
Renate: Yes, and not only that but also a lot of technical jargon is used. You really have to delve into it and I think it also requires a certain level of education if you want to understand everything which makes you already miss out on quite a lot of Rotterdammers - which is a shame. So we wanted to extend the reach. Not only through informing but also through offering the tools to people to mobilise and speak up against the plans to continue the oil extraction.
slvi.e: I think in all circumstances it is a really good thing for people to know that there is a way to file a formal objection and what the basic structure of such a document looks like.
I hope this will have a broader reach and help in different cases as well.
Renate: We won't say it has to spread like an oil spill, but in this regard, it should!
slvi.e: This is a good oil spill, an oil spill for the wellbeing ... What were your main objections to
the extraction plan presented by NAM?
Renate: We had several objections. I personally thought the municipality of Rotterdam had submitted a very good objection (zienswijze). They summed it up very nicely and we actually agreed for the most part.
First, of course, climate; the initial plans were to continue oil extraction until 2050 so that a third of the oil still present underground would be pumped up. Well, when we read that we thought; “How? We must be climate neutral by 20502. Is this seriously your plan?” And then at the same time the government nevertheless indicates they do indeed want to achieve the climate objectives [as stated by the IPCC]. We found this such a contradiction, so that was a big argument as well.
In addition, the risks of, for example vibration in the ground and land subsidence, we believe had not been investigated enough. We were wondering, [in the plan presented by the NAM] it does say that the ground has subsided 5 centimetres since 1984 and that they are expecting another 2 centimetres, but there has never really been conducted a baseline measurement. We think this has not been researched enough. They cannot prove it will in fact be just 2 centimetre. Besides, Rotterdam is of course already a city with rather low ground level. The more the ground will subside, the more risk it will pose to the city.
There is a whole list of arguments. Another argument was; “the chemicals injected in the soil under high pressure to extract oil, what happens to them afterwards? Isn't there a risk that this will eventually end up in the same soil layer as the one that contains our drinking water? What is the risk assessment like and how are you going to prevent this?” The NAM says very nicely: “Yeah, those risks are so small and the place where the oil wells and boreholes actually are, is a completely different place to where the largest fresh water reservoirs are located.”
Yeah you know, we weren't convinced so to say. Neither were the Municipality of Rotterdam, that of Barendrecht and several other organisations that submitted formal objections. So there's a multitude of reasons actually.
slvi.e: With regards to the land subsidence mentioned in the plans, I also thought, the 2 centimetre [until 2050], might on first sight not mean much –that is in fact what is being said, because otherwise the permit would of course not be granted– but those 2 centimetres are studied in isolation of other factors. The reasoning seems incomplete and unclear. The rising sea levels are not taken into the slightest consideration. Perhaps this 2 centimetres is actually 5. I also wondered about the maintenance of the waterworks, which is another factor which
2 The EU and the Netherlands have agreed, as legally secured in the Climatelaw, to become climate neutral by 2050 and climate negative after that.
influences the risk the 2 centimetre land subsidence could pose. You [the NAM and EZK] are making a lot of assumptions that might not be correct. Maybe this information I am getting at is in the document, or not in it, but in the reasoning behind the plans, but I could not find it in any of the documents. According to the documents 2 centimetres should be okay.
Renate: “The risks are limited” is what was said.
slvi.e: Yeah, but I wonder if that in fact is true. Rotterdam, as you said, has a low ground level
–it is already 90% below sea level– which might mean the risk is much bigger.
Renate: Yes, exactly and as I have often been told, the soil in Rotterdam looks very different than in Groningen, for example, so you can't really compare it3. But we still think that a good impact assessment, or whatever you want to call it, a reasonable investigation, should be carried out into what the risks actually are and not just the vibrations or subsidence but really all the factors that come into play. I think the burden of proof should not lie with us. It is difficult for us to prove that in fact, these negative consequences will take place. We cannot really look into the future.
slvi.e: You also do not possess the technical expertise.
Renate: No, but I actually think that the burden of proof should lie with the NAM. They should prove that indeed the risks are in fact that small. This proof I think is insufficiently reflected in the extraction plan and the municipality is on our side in this one.
slvi.e: I think this [shift you propose] would be necessary for policy to be more accountable for the climate. This policy in which you have to prove that something is going to be bad for the environment actually is a sort of prejudice or bias in the judicial structure.
Renate: Yes, actually, you assume that the risks simply are very small.
3 The NAM is the same company that has been drilling for gas in Groningen. This gas extraction has been a rather infamous case in the Netherlands in recent years, which contributes to suspicion and fear surrounding the NAM’s plans to further its activities in Rotterdam.
Since 1959, NAM has been drilling for gas in the Groningen gas field, the largest gas field in Europe. Since 1963 there have been earthquakes in Groningen as a result of the drilling. In 2012, an earthquake measuring 3.6 on the Richter scale occurred. Houses are sinking, tearing apart and the health of the residents is significantly under pressure. The number of earthquakes increases exponentially as does their magnitude. Prime Minster Rutte promised to completely terminate any gas extraction in Groningen from 2022. Now that the Netherlands is no longer getting gas from Russia, controversially so, the gas will instead be extracted till 2023-2024.
slvi.e: In some ways, it is related to a Not [climatically] guilty until proven otherwise.
Renate: It might also be interesting to mention that quite a few objections have been submitted by controlling authorities such as het Waterschap, I also believe the Hollandse Delta, and het Staatstoezicht op de Mijnen (state control of the mines, hereafter referred to as SodM). For example, the SodM says that in general, they agree with the extraction plan, but that there are risks, for example with regard to the use of hydraulic stimulation or fracking.
This is known as a rather controversial technique.
We [from Stop Oliewinning Rotterdam] think those risks are too great and het Waterschap has also said [the NAM] does not show in their extraction plan how the chemicals [utilised from fracking] will be removed from the ground, how the soil will be cleaned. So yes, in that sense, we are not the only ones who have doubts.
slvi.e: I indeed read the SodM said there are risks attached to fracking but there is something that is not really clear to me yet. The first round of objections has been, [after which] I received a letter [from the EKZ as a response and follow-up], which read “based on the submitted objections we see no legal basis for not granting NAM’s permit”. But does approve this permit then also mean granting the permission [for the NAM] to use fracking methods?
[In the extraction plan presented by the NAM], they said very nicely “there is a possibility of fracking, which does not mean we will.” That is what the NAM says, but if you do not want to frack, why do you want to have the option?
slvi.e: I thought it seemed like a constructed neutrality. The fact that you may not want to do it, but are allowed to do it, legally, and that you as a citizen do not have a legal basis to contest when it does happen, I think you should not act like that is neutral. I thought it was a bit hypocritical.
Renate: We also had that feeling at times. There are several moments where words are very much instrumentalised. For example [the NAM says;] “we are not going to expand the extraction or increase the production volumes, we are basically continuing in the same way as we have been since 1984. But we do want to increase the pressure”.
So for example, with fracking water is injected into the ground under high pressure. So the pressure is increased, but okay, now you are playing with words. What are you actually going to do? It makes it very confusing, especially for residents. You have to read it very well and almost be a geologist yourself to understand it.
slvi.e: I think in the plan there are a lot of words that make the plan look slightly different than what it is. First of all, the idea of oil winning4. Perhaps we are losing rather than winning when we extract oil. Another one of the words is actualisering5, which is how the NAM describes its plan. This means that [the extraction plan] merely includes the new techniques that at this moment in time are possible.
Renate: Yes, it does sound like that.
slvi.e: This manages to present it as if the extraction plan is a normal or natural course of circumstances; this is what we can do now and it is current. While, if you were to change those words throughout the proposal with words that go more directly to the core of what is actually proposed –such as exploitation and intensification– people might respond very differently to the plan. Especially those that have less time to read up on it or spend their time and energies on reading these nuances.
Renate: Our feelings at Stop Oliewinning Rotterdam, is that this is not happening for no reason. It really comes across as creating opacity, pulling up a smoke screen. If you just speak around it a bit, saying everything will be fine and it is not detrimental or harmful, residents will stop complaining. That is how it comes across.
As an authority (overhied), and certainly, as a national authority (Rijksoverheid), you must inform residents honestly and clearly about the kinds of things that concern them and in a manner so that they really can assess the risks they entail. You should not widen the already existing gap between the government and residents/citizens. I hope they have learned from the information evening and the whole process.
slvi.e: What I thought was nice –because we already talked a little bit with each other before starting the radio show– is the involvement of the municipality of Rotterdam in your appeal, which you mentioned.
Renate: That's right
slvi.e: Could you expand on this?
Renate: Yes, as I already mentioned a little bit earlier, the Municipality of Rotterdam also wrote an objection when the dossier was deposited for inspection, a very extensive one even if you compare it to other ones. Just really well substantiated on several levels. That already did us good, that the city council said “we are against this. We do not want that permit to be extended.”
Eventually, the ministry decided to continue with the extraction activities till 2035, instead of 2050. This decision came after this first round of inspection which our submitted objection was
4 Winning is the Dutch word that is used for ‘extraction’, which quite clearly has a positive ring to it. 5 Actualisering translates in English to ‘update’.
also part of. So we thought okay, that in itself is already a big win; 15 years less. But we thought, of course, we would rather get rid of the entire plan to continue the oil extraction and luckily a few weeks ago, to appeal the ministry’s decision. We [Stop Oliewinning Rotterdam] were already planning to do this ourselves, but we just did not know how the municipality would react to this. In the meantime there is now a new college, a considerably more right-wing college, are they still the same in it? So we were really happy to hear this.
slvi.e: I completely forgot that the municipal elections took place in the middle of all of this.
Renate: At the time, the deputy of GroenLinks, and now it is someone from D66. The college has just become quite right-wing in general, also with VVD and Leefbaar in the coalition, so we really had our doubts. We first wanted to wait and see how they would react, but luckily they wanted to appeal and we wanted that too. They also indicated they would like to work with Stop Oliewinning on this. So now we will continue working together on the appeal.
They are in the lead because of course they have lawyers and specialists. They will draft the appeal in such a way that actually has the greatest chance of success, but they certainly take us on board so that is very good.
slvi.e: What does the appeal process exactly look like? Is it a letter of appeal that you are writing?
Renate: Yes, it's my first time too, so I'm still reading up a bit. What I understand is that you always have the option to file what is called a Pro Forma appeal. In this appeal you can, quite broadly put, say “I do not agree, I’ll come up with more grounds to substantiate my appeal.” Then you have 4 weeks to supply those grounds. After the appeal has been submitted, the Council of State (Raad van State) will review the case and determine whether it believes the NAM’s request for a renewal of its permit and its accompanying extraction plan to be in accordance with the Mining Act. If the plan in some ways infringes on this Mining Act, the Council of State can modify the permit and ask the ministry to review those points. It is also possible that if the Council does not see any risks in the plan, the permit will be granted. In essence, it is a hearing and its outcome will depend on the perspective of the Council of State. It will be my first appeal as well, so I am very curious how something like this will go.
slvi.e: Because you said [earlier before we started the broadcast] that the mining law is mainly about the technical feasibility
Renate: Yes, while I am also not an expert on the topic, one of the points is indeed; is there systematic management of the extraction? Do we intervene in time if, for example, something goes wrong, if the chemicals end up in the wrong place or if major risks actually arise?
Aside from the technical feasibility, there are of course a number of other aspects, including environmental aspects. But what I have been told, is that such aspects purely referring to climate objectives are not an argument in their own right [under the Mining Act]. So that is something we would like to mention as context, but that is not something on the grounds of
which the Council of State can in fact refuse to renew the permit. They can't say in name of climate, we agree, so a permit is not issued.
slvi.e: It is actually such a contradiction that the laws now in place do not suffice to test the feasibility in relation to climate.
Renate: Yes, we have also discussed a bit internally [in Stop Oliewinning Rotterdam] whether the Mining act should not be updated since we are in the middle of a climate crisis.
Ultimately, it is also laws that are proposed and introduced by our national government, so it also depends a bit on the same government how they deal with it. And for that reason, it is difficult now and we have to look at what [legislation] is in place. That is also why I find it nice that the municipality indicated in conversation with us, that thet want to make the chance of success as great as possible. If that is not through a climate argument, then we will bring the climate in as it outlines the context, but we will not make it the main argument or the biggest paragraph in the appel we spend the most time on.
slvi.e: Yes, in that respect it is indeed perhaps the most strategic.
I saw that you [as Stop Oliewinning Rotterdam] shared a post [on Instagram] when Rusland
invaded Ukraine. I have wondered how this context might have complicated winning your case.
Renate: Whether that makes it more difficult, I don't know. In the end it is of course up to the Council of State in this case how it deals with it. The Mining Act has not changed in the meantime, but it is of course a huge blow that this war has started.
What we also found difficult about it is, we organised a number of actions [such as] distributing flyers in different neighbourhoods. We approached people and explained what is happening and asked if they could sign our petition which calls for a termination of the oil extraction activities as soon as possible so as to comply with the climate objectives. At a certain moment, we had a number of flyer moments organised but we did not go through with them because of the invasion. We already had a feeling people would look at it differently in these changed circumstances. After all, we have to get our oil from somewhere and if it no longer is allowed to get it from Russia, then perhaps here from the Netherlands. We were afraid of that and we saw this reflected in the reactions we got on the street.
slvi.e: We have to get rid of [our reliance on] on oil and this is a strange timing in which the Netherlands seems to be trying to claim its independence when it comes to gas and oil. It feels like a fossil reflex. The fact that we do not have access to gas and oil through our previously utilised channels, might be good time to look for other ways of sustaining ourselves rather than going back to oil until 2035. It seems like an “easy” option. It is an infrastructure [and accompanying dependence] that already exists. While Russia’s invasion of Ukraine also shows us how raw resources play a fundamental political role and are often the cause of conflict.
Renate: Putin continues with the war and seems to have enough money to do so, which is connected to the fact that we as part of many western countries have been buying his oil and gas for years.
We should therefore not be surprised when such a dictator invades a country. Then we suddenly find it bad and no longer want to support Putin. I think that is very hypocritical. We did it for years and then that man was just as much of a tyrant and has been known for many human rights violations. It is by doing that [buying the oil and gas] that we have made him so big. But it is difficult to explain that. Not everyone is open to that idea, which made it a lot more difficult for us. And of course, we are still very dependent on oil and gas. The vast majority [of these resources] is still imported; it is not like we are independent now. Rather the opposite, now we are going to other countries like Qatar for gas.
slvi.e: In some ways I had a utopian idea in mind. Perhaps that we, in this moment, would collectively realize that we should not do this [continue our dependency on the extraction of these natural resources such as oil and gas]. But that would of course have involved a lot of sacrifices as well.
Renate: Which in turn can also cause conflicts. We are of course already seeing the enormous rise in oil and gas prices which is causing conflicts, especially poorer countries are affected by this. They simply can no longer get their basics such as food, etc. because everything is getting so expensive due to inflation.
It is difficult because I really do realize, and Stop Oliewinning Rotterdam too, is that you have to get rid of oil and gas gradually. You cannot just turn off the tap overnight. I think it is a shame that this [geopolitical] situation seems to be used. The plans [for the extraction permit] we’re already there, at the end of December. The war in Ukraine started in February, I believe, but it seems like the ministry is benefiting from this timing.
slvi.e: That is more or less the feeling I have had. This is a very specific context in which the [decision with regards to the permit] is taking place. What I at times found difficult about the case against the oil extraction in Rotterdam, is the fact that this happens in so many different places around the world, which we have been dependent on for a long time and make use of collectively. Now that we know it has happened and is about to continue happening in our own city, we see the risks more and more clearly. I think the [comprehension and] image of these consequences is often out of sight [quite literally and figuratively], which is in many ways has been what keeps it going.
Renate: You also saw that in Nigeria with the Shell pollution and now it is suddenly happening under my feet? That makes it very different for people, and much more tangible.
slvi.e: I think it might, or rather it is something I hope to, bring about a greater sense of empathy; the fact is that this is happening in so many places in the world, and bring a small win for the climate movement.
Renate: That is something we hope for. In that respect we have, what also worked in our favour in the campaign to stop the oil extraction under Rotterdam, received a lot of media attention. The media came to us, the NOS, various newspapers such as Rijnmond, and asked us; “What is your initiative?” “Why are you against it?” It is already alive in society at large, there is concern about this. It is nice to see that the media really wanted to draw attention to this and that helped us a lot.
I also spoke with Marjan Minnesma from Urgenda about the plans concerning the oil extraction and asked her: “considering your experience with court cases and the like, what [would you say] works best?' And she said: “in the end, it is the media. Lawsuits are also important, but media attention, you have to keep telling the story.” So we really took that to heart and responded to requests from the media.
slvi.e: I also believe in archiving in the sense that even if [the media attenion] does not help to win this battle, then it will contribute something to the next one, I think.
Renate: A proof, as it were?
slvi.e: Yes. As I said before the show, and I myself saw quite a lot of parallels between this protest [against the plans for the oil extraction] and the demolition of the Tweebosbuurt. The Tweebosbuurt has received so much media attention, that the UN even wrote a report [on how the demolition infringed on human rights], and although this has not stopped the case, I think the [extensive documentation on the] Tweebosbuurt has provided [evidence of a politics in place and] a methodology [for responding to it].
If something similar [forced eviction] will happen to someone and they have to go through that legal process, which could very well be the first time for them, they can learn a lot about about how to respond and organize from the documentation. That is the information that is going to be very important. I am not saying there should not be optimism about the appeal, I think what I am trying to get at, is that regardless of how the case is ruled, it will have a reach.
Renate: Yes, we have also learned a lot lately. We went all the way through, of course, those documents. Learned all kinds of new concepts and how things works legally. That alone is super valuable and of course, we really hope we're successful, but the fact that we've already tried to do something against this says something.
The fact that this has also been reported in the media and that residents are really concerned and really do not want this, is already a very valuable signal to the government. That alone makes me happy.
slvi.e: I can imagine that this has changed the ties in the neighbourhood. I don't know whether you have come into contact with more people through this, has there been more collectivity?
Renate: I have to say we now consist of say 4 to 5 active members. We are not very big but we do have a following and people who like to stay informed. We have a number of followers on our social media channels, but I would not necessarily say that we represent the majority of the neighbourhood. It mainly involves people who already were very much involved in climate change and who were already an activist on this theme. But what we did try to do, we really saw that as our mission, is to at least put the neighbourhood in the right knowledge position with regards to what is happening and the possible consequences. One was more receptive to that than the other.
Of course, we have distributed flyers in several places, like I said, but a lot of people just did not know about it at all and were very shocked and were really like: “Wow okay this is happening under our feet,” and “What does this mean?” “We don't want to become a second Groningen,” that was something which was sometimes said.
So the ties [in the neighbourhood] do change, yes, but we are a small but close team. In that sense, we have a lot of knowledge together and really see it as our task to protect the neighbourhood and beyond —the whole area concerned and maybe also the whole of Rotterdam. In the end, it also concerns Rotterdam— to keep them informed. To represent some of them, even though we are not a majority after all. There will also probably be a whole group of residents who are like “fine, I guess,” “I think it is okay, I don't see that many risks.” But it does show that there really is a group of residents is who is really concerned.
slvi.e: From the outside, I think it is hard to judge how big something like this is, or how unanimous the neighbourhood is. That is why I was curious as to how it all worked.
Renate: We also spent 2 or 3 days with a stand in a very busy place in Charlois and we got really positive reactions from passers-bys. I really only had one discussion with a person who was like “I'm not against it at all.” Okay fine, that's your opinion, but we collected a lot of signatures under the petition and people said “really good that you are doing this.” That gives the impression that there is a lot of support.
But as I said earlier, we did notice that the sentiment has changed a bit since the war in Ukraine. I have heard people say “say, you know, the situation has changed so much. Yes, I'm actually giving up. I think it's fine. I don't even need to hear about the sequel anymore. This is just it, that 2035 is fine, I won't do more.” That is of course their choice, but it is a pity that not everyone understands, saying, that we should stop with oil and gas [altogether], and that the war is precisely a symptom of this.
slvi.e: I was just about to say because I have the feeling that I have also seen this tilt a bit, but that I also thought that is actually not logical as an argument. It is the opposite of that.
Renate: But I don't think everyone has the right information to fully understand that, and what I find quite annoying myself is that the government also mentions a lot in their communication: “We have to save energy because we do not want to support Putin.” Then I think of all those
years that they also in part bought gas from Putin. It is now almost used as a political tool, making people feel guilty about taking a too long shower, because ‘it would help’ help Putin. I really do not like that.
slvi.e: That is also very much placing the responsibility with the individual rather than with the system.
There is now also talk about the possibility of continuing to extract gas in Groningen. It was initially said [promised] that the gas tap would be closed in 2022 latest. That is suddenly back on the table again. However, we are made to turn off the gas tap ourselves by taking a shorter shower, which then feels a bit contradictory.
Renate: Yes, and also, of course, you had all this time. It already starts with working with Putin, pumping money into these kinds of regimes. That has been going on for years so I think it is a bit false to say “well now it is not allowed anymore because now it politically does not look very well. So you have to use less energy.”
You have to use less energy, that is right and it is important to do so in any case, but in this way, it is put on the residents' plate. I personally did not think it was a fair representation of things.
slvi.e: It is also the image of a country that you project outwards. Now it is deemed almost social suicide or international suicide to continue [buying gas or oil from Russia].
Renate: Yes, exactly, but then they gl to Qatar, which by the way is not exactly known for being big on human rights, but that is another discussion.
slvi.e: But then again it is about image. What is hot right now not to do? I do not mean to say we should do it, not at all, but I get what you mean by it is suddenly very strategic.
Renate: Yes exactly, suddenly it is strategic to save energy. What I do find positive —which is very bad to do, talk in terms of positice about a way because that is of course not the case— is that it ensured people are aware they have to save energy. The prices have of course increased; it hits you right in the wallet. That is, war has ensured that it is taken for granted that we all have to save considerably.
slvi.e: I think it has also been something which has often been taken for granted. The fact that you have hot water from the tap when you want it. I had a few moments at my house lately when the shower for some reason was not working, not working, that I thought this is the moment.
Renate: Then you thought; the gas tap is closed
slvi.e: Yes, in that moment I thought: yes, ideologically I agree with this [closing of the tap] and maybe we now can see how we can adapt to this. But I did think it was a bit intense.
So yes, however much I would like us to save our energy, this is something I have taken for granted. The access to it. It is interesting how the [geopolitical] situation influences your own direct experience.
Renate: Then you actually realize what a privilege you have always had because it was always there. The fact that we always had access to energy —which at the time was also very affordable— that is another thing.
slvi.e: I also just realized that I have not play the sound clip you brought with you. Do you feel like it is still going to add something? If so, I would still like to play it.
Renate: That is possible. I do not know if you also have the other sound clip. It is a bit more recent. We have already discussed the other sound fragment you are talking about now. This clip is about the climate march in June, I believe, in which we were in the lead with Stop Oliewinning Rotterdam. Here we also collected signatures under the petition that we made with GroenLinks, who we also collaborated with, and offered it to the MPs who were present there. One of our members Naut also gave a speech
Transcript of the audio clip Renate described and we played live :
“Over the past few months we have set up a petition against the oil extraction under Rotterdam, which has been signed by almost 4000 people. We would love it if the people from national politics who showed up here, who have had the courage and the responsibility to be here, we really appreciate it. We want to ask them if they want to sign our petition and with that we ask them to do everything they can to ask the cabinet, the municipal government to immediately stop oil extraction under Rotterdam and elsewhere in the Netherlands. We ask you to dip your hand in a bowl of oil and then put your signature here, you can also give a thumbs up if you think it's too much, but now we and you are witnesses to the fact that these brave politicians who stand on the podium and promise to us and to you that they will do everything they can to ask the cabinet to stop this nonsense immediately. Thank you, Kristien. Applause. Who's next? Suzanne Kreuper. GroenLinks is also participating. Yes, thank you. Marieke, can we get an autograph from you too? Very good. Yes, thank you. A Volt signature is also on it. Volt is also against further fossil fuel extraction under our soil. Fantastic, thank you. PvdA, SP, and finally BIJ1. Ladies, you are fantastic! Thank you for signing this petition. Good luck with grabbing Rutte and Koog by the collar. Thank you."
● Gronings Gas: Gewonnon of Verloren?, (2022). [Radio Show] NPO Radio 1 / NOS. 27, Retrieved September 4, 2022, from https://open.spotify.com/show/4afLpWToj3KPcM2Oxb7QOL?si=3a8fe55b761f43ed
NOS podcast serie gemaakt door Heleen Ekker en Reinalda Start over de gas extractie in Groningen gepubliceerd in de aanloop naar de parlementaire enquête van 2022.
● Het Winningsplan Rotterdam (n.d.). https://mijnbouwvergunningen.nl/cms/view/728be01c-5fd7-4ef4-851c-a2645fe35f98/ken nisgevingen/56c79496-971c-4e5f-a828-ad1960321157.
Deze link geeft een uiteenzetting van het ingestuurde winningsplan van de NAM, de daarop volgende procedure en documentatie van de informatie verstrekt door de NAM en EZK op deze informatieavond kan hier worden teruggevonden eveneens de gestelde vragen en antwoorden.
● “Kabinet: Gaskraan Groningen Iets Verder Open, Verder Import Vloeibaar Gas.” NOS.nl - Nieuws, Sport En Evenementen, NOS Nieuws, 14 Mar. 2022, https://nos.nl/l/2421170.
● “Klimaatwet.” Wetten.nl - Regeling - Klimaatwet - BWBR0042394, https://wetten.overheid.nl/BWBR0042394/2020-01-01.
● “Mijnbouwwet.” Wetten.nl - Regeling - Mijnbouwwet - BWBR0014168, https://wetten.overheid.nl/BWBR0014168/2022-05-01.