Were the Authorities Deceived?

   Jun 19, 2024     2 min read

In the television show Kastljós last December, the Minister of the Environment, Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarson, made the following statement: “People may not realize that we Icelanders now have solutions when it comes to carbon capture. Just here in a place we all know, Akranes, there is, for example, the largest permanent carbon capture project in the world, Running Tide.”

The company’s operations involve binding carbon dioxide in the ocean with limestone-coated carbon buoys. The minister should have already suspected that not everything was right with this company, as the Environmental Agency had informed the minister that the agency did not have the legal authority to monitor the company’s activities, activities that were not only ocean dumping but far exceeded the research permit that Running Tide had secured. The minister was subsequently deemed unfit to handle an administrative complaint.

The current minister in the case, Bjarni Benediktsson, then took on the matter and found on April 25 of last year that the Environmental Agency was wrong. This was simply not ocean dumping. The chairman of the Independence Party intervened and clipped the wings of the regulatory agencies because the ministers of the party were captivated by the glossy image painted by the company’s representatives.

Recently, Heimildin published an interview with the Minister of the Environment, in which he was asked what his claims about the project’s tremendous environmental success were based on: “I just got them from the company’s representatives.” When the minister was questioned about the matter in parliament, he had little to say and more to accuse others of being liberal with the facts of the case—without further explanation.

This seems to be the trend with the current government—blindly trusting what they are told. Oversight of salmon farming is supposedly excellent. Everything was perfectly fine when Íslandsbanki was sold—the most successful auction in Icelandic history, no less. It’s perfectly fine to break administrative laws or appoint good friends to positions—and the like. They just need someone to tell them that everything they do is right and good, and then there’s nothing to worry about.

I have requested an explanation of the government’s involvement in this matter and whether it affects the state’s financial allocations, as the company anticipated having carbon sequestration inventories worth 1.3 billion ISK in its last annual report. If it then turns out that this is all some sort of greenwashing and that the authorities have been tricked into giving the company a quality certification with their signature, then it is obviously reprehensible—for a rather high amount. The big question, therefore, must be whether the authorities were deceived?