Category Archives: Oil Spills

Lobster fisherman wary of Gulf of St. Lawrence oil drilling ~ Chronicle Herald

May 11th, 2016

Lobster fisherman wary of Gulf of St. Lawrence oil drilling
FRAM DINSHAW STAFF REPORTER
Published May 10, 2016 – 6:25pm
Last Updated May 11, 2016 – 8:55am

As lobster season gets underway Tuesday in Cape Breton, a top local fisherman is warning that oil exploration and drilling in the Gulf of St. Lawrence could wreak havoc on local marine life.

“It could ruin our industry,” said Jordan MacDougall, president of the Inverness South Fisherman’s Association.

He warned that any oil spill would settle on the seabed — prime lobster habitat — and devastate their populations.

“You wouldn’t be able to sell your product and it would probably give Canada a negative name for that product from other areas,” said MacDougall.

His comments come just four months after regulators granted a one-year extension on an oil exploration licence for Corridor Resources Inc. at the Old Harry site off the western coast of Newfoundland, in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence.

But some warn that drilling for oil at Old Harry may detonate a ticking time bomb.

According to the David Suzuki Foundation, a 10,000-barrel oil spill at Old Harry in winter would hit the coasts of Cape Breton, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, and Les Iles de-la-Madeleine, which belong to Quebec. Simulations at other times of year also predict oil hitting the west and southern coastline of Newfoundland.

The areas that would be worst-affected by any spill would likely vary between seasons, but the Gulf of Saint Lawrence’s prevailing current runs anti-clockwise, which would push oil away from the open Atlantic and potentially endanger all five provinces bordering it.

“The Gulf of Saint Lawrence should be off-limits for drilling because it’s an extremely valuable marine area in terms of fisheries — lobster, tuna, snow crab, as well as herring,” said federal Green Party leader Elizabeth May.

She also said the gulf was home to several species of endangered whales. The Species at Risk Public Registry lists blue whales as living in the gulf. The Alternative Journal also listed belugas as endangered in late 2014 after their numbers in the Saint Lawrence estuary and gulf dropped below 1,000.

“It’s really critical that we have protection of the Gulf of Saint Lawrence,” said May.

But she said that needed environmental protections were stripped away by the former Conservative government when it passed C-38 in 2012, an omnibus bill that reduced protections for Canadian fisheries and fish habitats. Protection is now limited to only commercial, recreational or First Nations fisheries. Furthermore, the new law forbids only the killing of fish or the permanent altering of their habitats.

C-38 also included a new Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, replacing a stricter law that was passed in 1992, according to the Environmental Law Centre (ELC).

The 2012 act removed the requirement for a federal environmental assessment for all development projects. Even in cases when a project is designated by regulation, C-38 allows the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency to determine that an assessment is not required.

Secondly, the federal government may decide not to conduct its own environmental assessment of a designated project on the basis that the project is being assessed provincially, which the ELC maintains is a delegation of federal power and jurisdiction to the provinces.

This leaves provincial agencies such as the Canada-Newfoundland & Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (CNLOPB) and the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum board free to conduct their own assessments without referring to the federal cabinet, according to May.

“The rest of Canada is not paying attention to these smaller agencies that got power to do environmental assessments under Harper,” said May, who added that C-38 had to be repealed by the present Liberal government.

May also criticized the renewal of Corridor Resources Inc.’s oil exploration licence for free in January.

“It’s the fourth year they’ve gotten it for free,” said May.

However, the CNLOPB said that environmental protection was a top priority when reviewing applications for oil drilling in areas like Old Harry.

“The Canada-Newfoundland & Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board delivers world-class regulatory oversight with safety and environmental protection as our top priorities.

“A comprehensive strategic environmental assessment update was completed for the Western Newfoundland Offshore Area in 2014, and a project-specific environmental assessment would also be required prior to authorization of a drilling program under the board’s jurisdiction,” said board spokesman Sean Kelly in an email.

He added that other obligations had to be met regarding installations, training and competency, emergency response plans, financial capacity and the industrial benefits of a proposed program.

The Herald tried contacting both Fisheries and Oceans Canada and Corridor Resources Inc.’s CEO Steve Moran for more information but was unable to reach them by late Tuesday afternoon.

Source: Chronicle Herald  (Links added – not contained in original article.)

Share Button

Letter to Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources – time to revoke C-NLOPB’s mandate

February 4th, 2016

sos2logo

 

 

 

January 25, 2016

Hon. James Gordon Carr
Minister of Natural Resources
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0E4

Hon. Siobhan Coady
Minister of Natural Resources
PO Box 8700
St. John’s NL A1B 4J6

Dear Ministers:

Re: Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board and the Gulf of St. Lawrence

I am writing of behalf of the Prince Edward Island chapter of Save Our Seas and Shores (SOSS PEI). SOSS is a coalition of fishing organizations, environmental and tourism groups, coastal landowners, First Nations organizations, and individuals who are concerned that the ecologically rich and diverse Gulf of St. Lawrence, home to over 4,000 marine species, is particularly sensitive to any disturbance caused by seismic surveys, exploration and drilling for oil and gas.

As you know, for the third time in the past four years, the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (the NL Board) has granted a one-year extension to Corridor Resources exploration licence on the Old Harry prospect in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, located mid-way between the Magdalen Islands and the west coast of Newfoundland. Citing regulatory factors as its reason, the NL Board also waived, for the third time in four years, the $1 million deposit required for a licence extension. The “regulatory factors” the NL Board referred to is the requirement for public and Aboriginal consultations which the Board must hold as part of the environmental assessment for this project.

In August 2011, the NL Board contracted with former New Brunswick Ombudsman Bernard Richard to carry out an independent review of the Old Harry project, then in February 2012 terminated his contract, without justification, before any public consultations were held. Since then, the NL Board has dragged its heels despite numerous inquiries asking when and how these consultations will be carried out. Even now, the NL Board in its January 15, 2016 news release, says it will announce plans for consultations with Aboriginal groups and the public “at a later date”, not sometime soon. Does the Board intend to keep on delaying the consultations indefinitely and continue to give Corridor Resources free licence extensions?

The current licence extension for Corridor Resources is just one in a series of irresponsible, biased actions and decisions on the part of the NL Board. In 2012, the Board contracted with AMEC Environment and Infrastructure to update the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) of the Newfoundland portion of the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The purpose of the SEA was to assist the Board “in determining whether further exploration rights should be offered in whole or in part for the Western NL Offshore Area.” During the time the SEA was being conducted, the NL Board issued a call for bids for licences, including licences within the Gulf. Clearly, the Board assumed that further exploration rights would be offered in the Gulf, regardless of the findings of the SEA.

The SEA update report from AMEC discussed: numerous risks to marine species and the fisheries and tourism industries, the presence of many sensitive areas and endangered species, important data gaps, and the complex and deteriorating state of the Gulf. The lack of social acceptability was apparent from the results of the public consultations held in the five Gulf provinces. Of 597 written submissions and verbal comments, 582 expressed concerns regarding continued petroleum exploration in the Gulf. The logical conclusion, based on the findings in the report, would have been that the known risks outweigh the potential benefits. Instead of the normal procedure in which the authors of a report write the conclusions, the NL Board made the bizarre decision to write the conclusions itself. (This fact is no longer obvious in the final report on the Board’s website, perhaps due to criticism the Board received for writing its own conclusions.) Predictably, the NL Board concluded that “petroleum exploration activities generally can be undertaken in the Western NL area using the mitigation measures identified in the document.”

In addition, the Board concluded that suggestions that petroleum exploration activities in the Gulf should cease were policy decisions not within its mandate, despite the fact that the purpose of the report was, as noted above, to assist the Board in deciding whether to continue offering exploration rights in the NL portion of the Gulf.

As you know, to date only two of the five Gulf provinces have set up Offshore Petroleum Boards: Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador. The Nova Scotia Board ceased any activity in the Gulf after a public review panel responded to public and Aboriginal concerns in 1999. If the NL Board did not have a pro-petroleum industry bias, it would also cease all activity in the Gulf.

The roles of the NL Board are to facilitate the exploration and development of hydrocarbon resources in the NL Offshore and to protect the environment and worker safety. As noted in the Wells Report of 2010, these are conflicting roles. Clearly, the NL Board shows by its actions and decisions that protecting the Gulf ecosystem is not a priority.

We believe that the federal and NL governments have abrogated their responsibilities to oversee the decisions of this appointed body. Decisions, including the recent free extension of Corridor Resources licence, appear to have been rubber-stamped by the federal and NL Ministers of Natural Resources. Only NL benefits from oil and gas exploration and development in the Gulf, while the other four Gulf provinces share the risks. The protection of marine species and the rights of the First Nations, fishers, and other residents of the Gulf provinces to protect the Gulf ecosystem and pursue their livelihoods are being ignored.

In light of the failure of the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board to act in a responsible manner, SOSS PEI is calling on the federal and Newfoundland and Labrador governments to remove the Board’s mandate pertaining to offshore oil and gas exploration and development activities in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Sincerely,
Ellie Reddin
Past-Chair, Save Our Seas and Shores-PEI Chapter (SOSS PEI)

c.
Hon. Lawrence MacAulay, MP
Hon. Wayne Easter, MP
Sean Casey, MP
Robert Morrissey, MP
Hon. H. Wade MacLauchlan, Premier of Prince Edward Island
Hon. Robert Mitchell, Minister of Communities, Land and Environment
Hon. Paula Biggar, Minister of Transportation, Infrastructure and Energy
Hon. Alan McIsaac, Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries
Greg Wilson, Manager, Environmental Land Management

Share Button

Add your voice! – PEIslanders lobby Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources to remove the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board’s (C-NLOPB) mandate

February 4th, 2016

Defenders of the Gulf of St. Lawrence who live on Prince Edward Island are telling James Carr, Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources, and his provincial counterpart in Newfoundland and Labrador Siobhan Coady that it is time to pull the plug on the C-NLOPB.

This action follows the publication of Ellie Reddin’s Jan 27th article in the Journal Pioneer and PEI’s The Guardian, which pointed out a series of irresponsible, biased decisions made by the C-NLOPB over the past several years, including their recent decision to provide Corridor Resources a third extension on their exploration license for the Old Harry prospect in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. In her followup letter to the Ministers, Reddin wrote: “Citing regulatory factors as its reason, the [C-NLOPB] also waived, for the third time in four years, the $1 million deposit required for a licence extension. The “regulatory factors” the Board referred to is the requirement for public and Aboriginal consultations which the Board must hold as part of the environmental assessment for this project.”

“Decisions, including the recent free extension of Corridor Resources licence, appear to have been rubber-stamped by the federal and NL Ministers of Natural Resources. Only NL benefits from oil and gas exploration and development in the Gulf, while the other four Gulf provinces share the risks. The protection of marine species and the rights of the First Nations, fishers, and other residents of the Gulf provinces to protect the Gulf ecosystem and pursue their livelihoods are being ignored.”

In light of the failure of the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board to act in a responsible manner, SOSS PEI is calling on it’s members to write to the Ministers to demand that the federal and Newfoundland and Labrador governments to remove the Board’s mandate pertaining to offshore oil and gas exploration and development activities in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

See SOSS PEI full letter to federal Minister James Carr, and NL Minister of Natural Resources Siobhan Coady here.

The Gulf needs your support. Add your voice to SOSS PEI’s by sending a short email message to the Ministers – here’s is a sample message you could copy and paste, or personalize as you wish:

Dear Ministers:

I am writing to express my support for the letter you recently received from SOSS PEI regarding the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (C-NLOPB) and the Gulf of St. Lawrence. As outlined in the letter, the C-NLOPB has shown by its actions and decisions over the past several years that it is failing to carry out its responsibility to protect the Gulf environment. As Ministers responsible for the C-NLOPB, please act to remove the Board’s mandate pertaining to oil and gas exploration and development activities in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

(Your Name)
(Your home community and province)

Email addresses for the two Ministers are:
Minister.Ministre@nrcan-rncan.gc.ca and siobhancoady@gov.nl.ca

Share Button

Mary Gorman, Save Our Seas and Shores, passionate speaker at Pa’qtnkek Water Ceremony, October 26, 2015

February 1st, 2016

Mary Gorman of the Save Our Seas and Shores Coalition (SOSS), speaks passionately for protecting the Gulf of St. Lawrence at Pa’qtnkek Water Ceremony with Ethan Hawke, October 26, 2015.

Share Button

Old Harry oil exploration licence in Gulf of St. Lawrence extended ~ Canadian Press

January 15th, 2016

The Canadian Press
Jan 15, 2016 2:05 pm EST

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. – Environmental activists who want a drilling moratorium in the Gulf of St. Lawrence weren’t impressed Friday as regulators extended an oil exploration licence for the Old Harry site by another year.

Corridor Resources Inc. (TSX-CDH) of Halifax had until Friday to offer a $1 million deposit to extend the licence until next January.

The Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board announced the province and Ottawa agreed to waive the fee. Federal and provincial Natural Resources ministers ratified the move “in consideration of regulatory factors that have resulted in … delays in drilling a validation well in the final year of (Corridor’s) nine-year licence term,” the board said in a news release.

Spokesman Sean Kelly said no one was available for further comment.

Corridor Resources President and CEO Steve Moran referred all questions to the offshore petroleum board.

“It’s awful,” said Sylvain Archambault of the St. Lawrence Coalition, one of several environmental and indigenous groups across Canada that have called for a drilling moratorium in the Gulf.

“This is the third time they’ve obtained such a free pass.”

In its news release, the offshore board said it will soon announce plans for consultations with aboriginal groups and the public on related environmental assessments. Such regulatory requirements must be complete before any drilling goes ahead, Kelly confirmed in an email.

The federal government has estimated the Gulf and surrounding areas potentially hold 39 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and 1.5 billion barrels of oil.

Indigenous groups and environmental activists have urged a moratorium in the Gulf pending a scientific review of risks. They also want to see collective management strategies involving the five adjacent provinces — Quebec, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, PEI and Newfoundland and Labrador.

“Drilling would be close to the shore of any province,” Archambault said Friday in an interview. The Old Harry site is about 80 kilometres west of Newfoundland. One theory is that it was named for a community on the nearby Magdalen Islands.

“Scientific spill scenarios clearly show that the west coast of Newfoundland would be impacted as well as Cape Breton and the Magdalen Islands,” Archambault said.

“In the Gulf there are fisheries worth over $1.5 billion. There’s tourism, communities living all around the Gulf. We really don’t want the same scenario that happened in the Gulf of Mexico to repeat itself here.”

The Deepwater Horizon explosion April 20, 2010 in the Gulf of Mexico killed 11 rig workers. An estimated 3.19 million barrels of oil spewed into the water before engineers could cap the blown-out well 87 days later.

“And the Old Harry drilling site would be smack in the middle of the Laurentian Channel which is the highway used by all the migrating species — whales, salmon, cod,” Archambault said. “Anything happening there would be disastrous.”

Source: 680 News