Category Archives: Old Harry

Ethan Hawke guest at event to protect the Gulf of St. Lawrence ~ The News

October 22nd, 2015

The News
October 22, 2015

Actor, writer and director Ethan Hawke is lending his voice to the efforts to protect the Gulf of St. Lawrence from off shore petroleum exploration.

Hawke, who owns property in Tracadie, Nova Scotia, is going to be a guest at a water ceremony and press conference where the Chiefs of the Paq’tnkek First Nation and the Mi’gmaq of Gespe’gewa’gi (Gesgapegiag, Gespeg and Listuguj) as they make an important statement on Monday that outlines the significance of the Gulf of St. Lawrence to both Nations and calls for immediate actions to Protect the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Mary Gorman, of Pictou County, has been a long time activist for the Save our Seas and Shores Coalition and said this event is significant.

“We’re very grateful to the Mi’gmaq elders chiefs and their councils for protecting the gulf of St. Lawrence from offshore oil and gas development,” Gorman said. “We never would have been able to keep the oil industry out of the Gulf of St. Lawrence for the past 17 years without the Mi’gmaq leadership.

She said it’s great to have the support of Hawke who is coming on his dime to the event.

This venue for the conference is of historical significance. The site was the location for the events that led to the Marshall Decision which gives aboriginal people the right to make a living from fishing and hunting as based on early treaties between the British and Aboriginal people.

It’s because of that right that the aboriginal community believes they should be heavily involved in consultation about projects that could impact the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Troy Jerome of the Mi’gmawei Mawiomi Secretariat said they are concerned because there are off shore petroleum boards that are being organized with the intention of looking at drilling off shore.

“This could totally disrupt our way of life,” he said. “We need to be consulted.”

He said they want to know what kind of effects the drilling could have. He also believes that more people throughout the Atlantic provinces need to know what’s going on.

“We think this kind of event and having a big name like Ethan Hawke could raise awareness,” he said.

The event will take place on Monday at 1 p.m. at 577 Summerside Road, Antigonish.

The water ceremony is held in each season to give offerings and honour the Mi’gmaq people’s relationship with the water, the fish, the land, and their resources.

The press conference will draw attention to the threat to the waters of the Gulf of St. Lawrence posed by offshore oil and gas development.

The Leadership of the Innu and the Mi’gmaq of Gespe’gwa’gi formed a coalition in October 2013 to work together to protect the Gulf of St. Lawrence. This coalition was formed with the intent to speak with one voice to protect the Aboriginal and Treaty rights and title throughout the Gulf of St. Lawrence from potential hydrocarbon exploration.

Source: The News

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Right whales off Cape Breton going the wrong way for shipping, fishing

October 4th, 2015
THE CHRONICLE HERALD
TOM AYERS CAPE BRETON BUREAU
Published September 22, 2015 – 7:47pm
Last Updated September 22, 2015 – 7:58pm
Cape Breton residents are seeing more right whales offshore as the ocean mammals search for food. The top and sides of whales’ heads have raised patches of skin that are black and called callosities. These are the identifying features for distinguishing individual right whales, shown here as they surface off Cape Breton. (MOIRA BROWN / Canadian Whale Institute)

Whales leaving traditional feeding grounds for Gulf of St. Lawrence: oceanographer
Cape Breton residents are seeing more right whales offshore as the ocean mammals search for food. The top and sides of whales’ heads have raised patches of skin that are black and called callosities. These are the identifying features for distinguishing individual right whales, shown here as they surface off Cape Breton. (MOIRA BROWN / Canadian Whale Institute)

Researchers say endangered right whales may be going the wrong way when it comes to shipping lanes and fishing grounds around Cape Breton and into the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Kim Davies, an oceanographer at Dalhousie University, said that right whales have significantly changed their migration patterns over the last few years.

The endangered marine mammals are leaving their traditional feeding grounds off southern Nova Scotia and the Bay of Fundy and are increasingly making their way into the Gulf of St. Lawrence to chase food.

“Because these changes in the right whale distribution have been occurring over several years — I think 2011 was the first year they really started disappearing — we’re growing more and more concerned,” said Davies.

Right whales are typically in the region from June to October, chasing large, high-energy zoo-plankton that arrive every summer along with cold Arctic water, she said, and that food source has been largely absent lately from the Roseway Basin off Barrington and from the Bay of Fundy.

It’s not yet clear whether the plankton change is due to global warming or melting Arctic sea ice, Davies said, “but it is climate related.”

Government and industry have worked together to change seasonal shipping and fishing regulations off the South Shore and in the Fundy region to protect right whales, but that work has not been done in the open ocean or the Gulf, she said.

“That is the No. 1 concern,” said Davies.

“We have very good information on shipping, about where vessels are and where fishing takes place in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and across the Scotian Shelf, but we have practically no information about right whales and their migration, outside of their well-known habitats.”

This year, researchers from several organizations kicked a monitoring program into high gear, said Davies. She started surveying off Nova Scotia using underwater drones that listened for whales near offshore oil and gas fields, and some aerial surveys were conducted in the Gulf.

Scientists were surprised to find 35 to 40 right whales near Prince Edward Island and the Gaspe Peninsula, she said.

“They’re popping up in odd places everywhere,” said Davies.

“We heard them out at the shelf break last week, 200 kilometres offshore, which is very concerning because of the oil and gas seismic exploration that’s going to occur there.”

Davies said using underwater drones to listen for right whales, a system can be developed to alert shipping and fishing vessels in the area, but that work is just starting.

Moira Brown, a senior scientist at the Canadian Whale Institute, said the right whale population has been growing again over the last few years, with more than 500 individuals identified in the area, but more effort is needed to monitor the population’s shifting migration patterns.

They are being spotted regularly by whale watching tours off Cape Breton and by others in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and are also appearing off the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador, she said.

“In fact, there have been more sightings (this year) in the Gulf of St. Lawrence than there have been in their two critical habitats in the Bay of Fundy and the Roseway Basin,” she said.

The whales have always travelled to the Gulf, said Brown, but not in great numbers.

“There’s no doubt that we are very data poor on that end. It’s certainly time to get up there and do more surveys.”

Davies said two right whales were entangled this summer in fishing gear off Ingonish, and both were released. One was rescued by a group from Newfoundland after a buoy rope became wrapped around its tail. In the other instance, a right whale was penned inside a mackerel net.

The Whale Release and Strandings Group, based in St. Philip’s, N.L., was sent to Cape Breton in July to look for an entangled humpback when it came across one of the right whales, said Julie Huntington, education co-ordinator with the group.

“It’s great that we were there and able to respond,” she said.

Brown and Davies said that with the changing migration patterns, it wouldn’t be surprising if Fisheries and Oceans Canada was concerned about right whales getting tangled in fishing gear.

No one from the department was available for comment Tuesday.

 

Link to this story

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Fishing Industry Raises Concerns over Oil and Gas in the Gulf of St. Lawrence

July 21st, 2015

Press Release, July 21/2015

In a powerful show of unity, First Nation communities and fishing industry representatives call on the Federal Ministers of Natural Resources, Environment, and Fisheries to suspend petroleum development in the Gulf of St. Lawrence until it can determine that these activities would pose no risk to commercial fisheries.

The Gulf’s Aboriginal Communities, Harvester, and Processor Associations, call on the federal government to hear public concerns and evaluate the risks of drilling in a semi- enclosed body of water that supports hundreds of coastal communities in 5 provinces.

“The government is ignoring that the Gulf of St. Lawrence is partially landlocked and one of the most sensitive and productive marine breeding regions in Canada with over 2,200 marine species that spawn, nurse and migrate year around. Due to the sensitive nature of the St. Lawrence it unlikely that a billion dollar fishing industry could withstand oil and gas development,” says Marilyn Clark, executive director of the Nova Scotia Fish Packers Association.  Although Strategic Environmental assessment (SEA) have been undertaken by both Newfoundland and Quebec, these inadequate assessments failed to look at the Gulf as a whole, she said.

“We know there is very little capacity to respond to an oil spill due to high winds and counter clockwise currents that only empty into the Atlantic once a year, leaving NS, NB, PEI, QC and NL coastlines vulnerable to contamination. Despite this, the environmental assessment process has been downgraded to allow companies to drill exploratory wells without consulting people depending on these waters for their livelihoods,” states fisherman Leonard Leblanc of Cheticamp, Nova Scotia.

Spill simulations undertaken by the Rimouski Institute of Ocean Science demonstrate that fish and plankton critical to the Gulf’s food chain would have to migrate through oil at both the Laurentian Channel and Straight of Belle Isle, which are entry and exit regions critical to the Gulf’s entire eco-system.

Even Corridor Resources, who wants to drill at Old Harry, acknowledge in their EA report that: “There are environmental and technological constraints to response and cleanup. High sea states and visibility are examples of typical environmental constraints, while technological constraints include pumping capacity of oil recovery devices and effectiveness of chemical dispersants.” Furthermore, several months of ice coverage in the winter escalate these important limitations.

Nearly two years ago, First Nations formed the Innu, Maliseet and Mi’gmaq Alliance and signed an agreement to protect the Gulf from Oil and Gas Development. They have recently renewed this commitment and reiterated their request for a 12 year Moratorium.

To date, they have yet to be consulted on the Old Harry project.

“Quebec’s Environment Assessment (SEA) detailed many gaps in knowledge and understanding of the Gulf of St Lawrence.  We have existing Aboriginal rights and constitutionally protected Treaty Rights as recognized by the Supreme Court of Canada. We will do all that is necessary to protect our way of life and prevent any exploratory plan to be carried out in the Gulf,” explains Troy Jerome, Executive Director of the Mi’gmawei Mawiomi Secretariat.

In the event of a spill, Canadian law demands a company to have a measly 1 billion dollars of compensation monies. This is deeply inadequate when you consider that Gulf fisheries are worth more than one billion each year. Investments in boats, licenses, and fish plants dependent on renewable resources for their operations are worth far more than these proposed damages. The BP Macondo disaster cost BP over $40 billion dollars so far and could cost the company over $60billion due to ongoing litigation.

“How do you quantify damages to living species that have been around for thousands of years if you are not even taking into account ecological value?” asks Clark. “In short, the Gulf of St. Lawrence fishing industry will accept no less than a full, independent expert review panel, acting in the 5 provinces, as is warranted by public concerns in section 38 (2) b of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act”, she concludes.

For further information contact:

Marilyn Clark 902.774.0006 (French/English)
Director Nova Scotia Fish Packers Association

Troy Jerome 506.759.2000 (French/English)
Executive Director
Nutewistoq, Mi’gmawei, Mawiomi Secretariat

Leonard LeBlanc 902-302-0794 (French/English)
Gulf Nova Scotia Fishermen’s Coalition

Ian MacPherson 902-566-4050 (English)
PEI Fishermen’s Association

Jean-Pierre Couillard 418-269-7701 (French)
Association des Capitaines Propriétaire de la Gaspésie

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Groups band together to fight oil exploration on Gulf of St. Lawrence ~ APTN news

July 21st, 2015

July 21, 2015

by Danielle Rochette

APTN National News

Eighteen organizations spread out over four provinces are banding together and calling on the federal government to stop any kind of oil exploration work in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

The group sent a letter Tuesday to Natural Resources Minister Greg Rickford, Fisheries Minister Gail Shea and Minister of Environment Leona Aglukkaq. [See press release here]

“As fisheries representatives active in all parts of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, we are writing to inform you that we will oppose any petroleum development in the Gulf of St. Lawrence without prior consultation and a thorough understanding of the impacts to our seafood industry,” the letter states.

It’s not clear who penned the letter.

The Nutewistoq M’igmawei Mawiomi Secretariat is one of the organizations that is part of the coalition.

The group pointed out that the process that will allow companies to explore for oil, will also allow them to circumvent the environmental or consultation process.

“Given that exploratory drilling has been downgraded to a simple ‘screening exercise,’ which does not necessitate consultation with existing users, we demand that the Old Harry prospect be put to a full review panel as is warranted by public concern under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act” the letter states.

A Mi’kmaq group out of Quebec is already lobbying the Quebec government to put in place a 12-year moratorium on exploration work in the Gulf. [See APTN story here: Nations band together to fight future oil exploration in Gulf of Saint Lawrence]

There is also a coalition made up of environmental groups and First Nation communities fighting any kind of oil work. They’re concerned that thousands of fisheries and tourism jobs will be at stake if there is a spill in the Gulf.

“We would also like to remind the federal government that the Gulf of St. Lawrence is a common body of water and that spills occurring in one area cannot be contained by provincial delineations,” they say in the letter.

The Gulf waters touch five provinces, Quebec, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador.

Source: Groups band together to fight oil exploration on Gulf of St. Lawrence – APTN National news

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Native groups seek oil and gas moratorium in Gulf of St. Lawrence ~ CTV news

July 10th, 2015

CTV News
July 8/2015

MONTREAL — Quebec must impose a 12-year moratorium on oil and gas exploration in the Gulf of St. Lawrence to give time for a comprehensive assessment on possible risks to the ecosystem, the chiefs of three native groups said Wednesday.

The waters of the St. Lawrence are vital to the livelihoods of the Innu, Mi’kmaq and Maliseet nations and should be protected, they told a news conference in Montreal as the Assembly of First Nations continued its annual meeting.

They also asked federal party leaders to tell voters ahead of this fall’s election where they stand on the protection of the Gulf from development.

Mi’kmaq Chief Scott Martin said he feared an environmental catastrophe in the St. Lawrence similar to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico that devastated parts of the southern U.S. coastline.

Martin added there are currently “numerous knowledge gaps” within oil-industry reports on risks associated with drilling along the waterway.

“The gulf is a highly productive body of water and diversity is very rich,” he told reporters. “No one can tell us what effect a blowout like a Deepwater Horizon can have on the food chain.”

Martin said he wants an “integrated assessment” of all the risks involved with resource exploitation in the area before Quebec grants exploration or drilling permits.

The chiefs said they decided the moratorium should last 12 years after calculating the time they thought it would take to conduct studies, write reports and consult the public.

Resource exploitation along the St. Lawrence River cannot be carried out without their consent, the chiefs said, adding the Supreme Court of Canada ruled native people must be consulted and accommodated before their territory can be used for commercial development.

Some chiefs were more hard line than others.

Innu Chief Jean-Charles Pietacho said his people won’t be silenced with petrodollars.

“Never will I accept royalties that come from (the oil and gas sector),” he said.

Anne Archambault, grand chief of the Viger Maliseet First Nation, was more nuanced in her comments, saying she needed to consult her people before deciding on royalties.

She said her people’s ancestral rights to the Atlantic salmon “take precedence over oil,” adding 95 per cent of her community’s revenue comes from the salmon industry.

Source: http://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/native-groups-seek-oil-and-gas-moratorium-in-gulf-of-st-lawrence-1.2459801

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Innu-Maliseet-Mi’gmaq demand protection of Gulf from oil and gas development ~ The Telegram

July 10th, 2015

Native groups demand protection of Gulf from oil and gas development
The Telegram
July 8/2015

Chiefs from the Innu, Maliseet and Mi’gmaq Nations are demanding that federal party leaders tell voters whether they will protect the Gulf of St. Lawrence’s unique and vital ecosystem.

With Québec proposing to open the Gulf of St. Lawrence to oil and gas exploration, Chief Jean-Charles Piétacho of the Innu of Ekuanitshit said in a news release, “This is an issue that affects the livelihoods of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people in five provinces and it is the federal government’s responsibility to protect them.”

The release notes that last month, Québec announced it would lift a moratorium on oil and gas exploration in the Gulf and begin granting permits once legislation is in place. Newfoundland has already granted an exploration permit at the Old Harry Prospect, northeast of the Magdelen Islands, but drilling has not yet been allowed.

It says both Québec and Newfoundland’s powers are from the federal government and they will need federal government approval for major decisions. Old Harry is at the boundary used by Canada to assign each province its regulatory authority.

“The Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico five years ago was an exploration well, like what the provincial governments want to allow,” said Chief Scott Martin of the Mi’gmaq of Listuguj. “We want federal party leaders to tell the people of New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Québec whether they are willing to risk that kind of catastrophe in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.”

A strategic environmental assessment by Québec concluded that a catastrophe on the scale of Deepwater Horizon is “plausible” if exploration goes ahead. The native groups stress in their news release that results would be devastating for a commercial fishery around the Gulf worth $1.5 billion annually and a tourism industry that generates another $800 million per year.

The Innu, Maliseet and Mi’gmaq communities of Québec formed an alliance in 2013 for the protection of the Gulf of St. Lawrence. At the Assembly of First Nations meeting in Halifax in 2014, Maliseet and Mi’gmaq chiefs from Nova Scotia and New Brunswick joined them in calling for a moratorium.

“The salmon has sustained our peoples since time immemorial and it migrates through the Gulf before it returns to our rivers to spawn,” said Grand Chief Anne Archambault of the Viger Maliseet First Nation. “We have rights protected under the Constitution to harvest what the Gulf gives to us and those rights take precedence over oil and gas.”

Source: http://www.thetelegram.com/News/Local/2015-07-08/article-4207843/Native-groups-demand-protection-of-Gulf-from-oil-and-gas-development/1

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St. Lawrence Coalition Releases Gulf 101 Report

June 12th, 2014
Credit: Andrea Schaffer via Flickr
Credit: Andrea Schaffer via Flickr

After four years of research by the St. Lawrence Coalition, Gulf 101 – Oil in the Gulf of St. Lawrence: Facts, Myths, and Future Outlook was released last week (June 10th 2014) in tandem with World Oceans Week. The report explores the facts and myths surrounding oil exploration and exploitation in the Gulf as well as possible future scenarios that may result from these activities.

The 80-page report highlights our lack of understanding towards the ecosystems within the Gulf as well as the oceans currents and other environmental components found there. The environment of the Gulf is subject to conditions that are not seen in other areas of oil development such as winter ice that would make cleaning up an oil spill almost impossible, threatening the destruction of the slowly recovering cod stocks as well as the currently thriving fisheries and tourism industries that so many communities depend on.

The report provides true insight for why Save Our Seas and Shores and the St. Lawrence Coalition asks you to lend your support to a moratorium on oil and gas in the Gulf. Go here to take action!

The Gulf 101 Report generated massive media attention in all five Gulf provinces. Here is a selection:

Newfoundland

The Telegram: http://www.thetelegram.com/News/Local/2014-06-09/article-3755759/Group-calls-for-oil-and-gas-moratorium-in-the-Gulf-of-St.-Lawrence/1

Nova Scotia

Chronicle Herald: http://thechronicleherald.ca/novascotia/1206569-hunt-for-oil-gas-in-gulf-of-st-lawrence-questioned

CBC Nova Scotia: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/nova-scotia/groups-call-for-gulf-of-st-lawrence-oil-and-gas-moratorium-1..2669369

Prince Edward Island:

The Guardian: http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/News/Local/2014-06-09/article-3756428/Group-calls-for-moratorium-on-drilling-in-Gulf-of-St.-Lawrence/1

http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/Opinion/Letter-to-editor/2014-06-10/article-3757764/Oceans-Day-reminds-us-to-protect-the-Gulf/1

Quebec

CBC News Montreal (online): http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/moratorium-on-gulf-of-st-lawrence-oil-exploration-sought-1.2669637 (June 9)

Go hear to read the Press Release on the report from the David Suzuki Foundation:

English: http://www.davidsuzuki.org/media/news/2014/06/groups-and-first-nations-in-five-provinces-demand-a-stop-oil-and-gas-activities/

French: http://www.davidsuzuki.org/fr/medias/communiques-de-presse/2014/06/des-groupes-et-premieres-nations-des-cinq-provinces-exigent-un-arret-des-activit/

 

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Stopping the Flow – Series of talks in PEI highlights risks of oil drilling in St. Lawrence ~ The Guardian

October 16th, 2013

Stopping the flow
The Guardian
Jim Day
October 15, 2013

Series of talks in P.E.I. highlight risks of oil drilling in St. Lawrence

Sylvain Archambault has encountered his share of indifference towards oil and gas exploration and drilling.

The general public, he notes, often view the practice in a “very neutral way.”

Offer them with some cold, hard, disturbing facts, though, and they can quickly snap to attention, says Archambault.

(Click here for times and locations of talks)

He believes information – good, solid information – is the key to winning converts in a growing campaign to rally support to convince government to place a moratorium on offshore oil and gas exploration and drilling in the Gulf of the St. Lawrence.

Archambault, who has a Masters in Science, co-founded the St. Lawrence Coalition in 2010 in the Magdalen Islands because “new projects by Corridor Resources was really giving concerns to the people.”

His coalition has since grown to 85 organizations with 4,500 individuals from all walks of life. Scientists, NGOs, tourism operators and fishermen are among the coalition members.

Archambault and his coalition have their sights set squarely on raising awareness of what he considers serious threats posed by the prospect of oil and gas exploration in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

“Our main purpose is to document things, inform the people, influence policy and try to gain a Gulf-wide moratorium in the Gulf of St. Lawrence,” he said at a media conference in Charlottetown Tuesday.

“There is no rush in going in with oil and gas (exploration and drilling) in the Gulf and we definitely need a comprehensive public review – five provinces plus the federal (government) – to have a global look at this body of water.”

Archambault says Corridor Resources, a junior company with no offshore experience, is proposing to drill in the middle of one of the most productive channels of the entire Gulf in the “Old Harry” prospect between Newfoundland and the Magdalen Islands.

“They have experience on land in New Brunswick – conventional gas, shale gas – but they have no offshore experience,” he says.

He adds the company continues to demonstrate an “arrogant attitude” towards environmental concerns.

Archambault is also concerned with the Quebec government repeatedly voicing its determination to go ahead with oil and gas exploration and perhaps even development in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

He notes people often say Newfoundland is drilling in the Atlantic Ocean, so why not drill in the Gulf of St. Lawrence?

“It’s a very, very different picture,” he counters.

“Often the Atlantic is 350 kilometres from the shore…whereas in the Gulf it is a close ecosystem.”

Archambault is in Prince Edward Island this week as the featured speaker in a series of public meetings designed to raise awareness of the serious threats posed by oil and gas exploration in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

The P.E.I. chapter of Save Our Seas and Shores (SOSS P.E.I.) are hosting the series. They are also providing along with Archambault a diverse panel to offer information and to answer questions from the public.

One panelist, marine scientist Irené Novaczek, says the Gulf of St. Lawrence has already been heavily impacted by climate change contributing to the northern cod and the groundfish being “fished down” to a precariously low level.

“Now you add to that more industrial pollution from oil and gas extraction and increased ultra violet light from a thinning ozone layer, you have set yourself up a scenario where the Gulf of St. Lawrence could flip from a precariously healthy ecosystem – damaged that it is now – to a dead zone,” says Novaczek, who serves as an SOSS scientific advisor.

“Industrial activity could be enough to push it over the edge.”

Mike McGeoghegan, president of the P.E.I. Fishermen’s Association, says there has been a lack of consultation with the fishing community in Atlantic Canada.

“I need to have some more answers before I even look at this thing,” he says.

“We need a moratorium on this thing right now until we…find out what is going on.”

P.E.I. tourism operator Peter Baker fears a spill of any kind, with even the perception that oil would wash ashore in P.E.I., would be a dagger to the heart of the province’s tourism industry.

Archambault notes that the Gulf’s unique, biodiverse ecosystem supports a multi-billion dollar fishery and tourism industries.

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ECO-PEI reviews the draft Strategic Environmental Assessment

September 28th, 2013

September 27, 2013.
The Environmental Coalition of Prince Edward Island,
81 Prince St.,
Charlottetown, PEI C1A 4R3

To whom it may concern,

Re:  Public Review of Draft Western Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Area
Strategic Environmental Assessment Update Report (2013)

Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the SEA Update Report.

We have seen nothing in this update to allay any of the very serious concerns and objections we have stated in previous submissions and re-state below. The update seems to be an attempt to show that consultation requirements have been fulfilled and development should proceed. This is not surprising, given the history of environmental assessments in our region (only once has there been a recommendation to stop development), and the inappropriate mandate of the CNLOPB as both regulator and development facilitator.

In addition, there are several weaknesses in the Update Report that we know have been brought to your attention with detailed criticism so we simply state those issues:

1. inadequate consideration of sensitive or biologically important zones

2. contrary to the intention of these assessments, CNLOPB is presently facilitating oil and gas exploration and development by allowing seismic testing, issuing licenses, and making land ownership and control agreements with oil companies

3. an Oil Spill Response Gap study needs to be done to address this profound discrepancy of oil spill preparedness in the Gulf of St. Lawrence

4. flaws in the consultation process, and understating of comments to the draft Report which stated opposition to oil and gas development in the Gulf, as well as downplaying other independent reports which recommended protection of the ecology of the Gulf.

5. the narrow, inadequate terms of reference for this SEA Update Report

6. downplaying the eventuality of spills, the environmental effects of dispersents that would be used, and the catastrophic consequences of any single ‘blow-out’

7  the dangers and possible contamination of drinking water from hydraulic fracturing

8. although the Update Report describes many of the potential harmful effects of various components of oil and gas exploration in the Gulf, it does not address the ecological fragility of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and there is no corresponding statement that the Precautionary Principle would dictate stopping oil and gas exploration

9. lack of consideration of liability and compensation to stakeholders negatively impacted by an oil spill

In addition, our previously stated concerns remain:

A. The most important consideration in this assessment is the risk and implications of a drilling rig blow-out.

The BP oil spill catastrophe on April 20, 2010 in the Gulf of Mexico shows the extreme risk of deep water oil development. Ecological destruction continues there, as is reported in http://www.nola.com/news/gulf-oil-spill/ including a story Dec.14, 2011 on “BP well blowout showed oil industry is not set up for safety, scientist panel finds”.
The capacity to contain or respond to an oil spill in the Gulf of St. Lawrence is known to be completely inadequate. Any similar oil spill in the Gulf of St. Lawrence would ruin fish stocks, beaches and coastal communities on PEI and in the rest of the Gulf region.

B. The Terms of Reference for the ‘Independent Review of Environmental Assessment’ stated:  under ‘4. Limitation’ :
“The Independent Reviewer’s mandate shall not include an examination of questions of energy policy, jurisdiction, … or generally matters which go beyond those described in the Scoping Document or as are required pursuant to the CEA Act.”

To exclude questions of energy policy is to avoid the critical issue of whether it is sensible for our governments to choose development of fossil fuel extraction over development of renewable solar energy options. Government policy can determine to which option capital and resources will more readily be directed.

To exclude questions of jurisdiction also ignores a critical difficulty with this process, that is, that ultimately the C-NLOPB holds the power to make decisions that have an great potential to affect other provinces. Current government policy gives full control of offshore drilling activities to Petroleum Boards that are not managed by elected representatives, and that have the conflicting mandates of promoting oil and gas development, and protecting the marine environment.

Both energy policy and jurisdiction should have been included in the Terms of Reference.

THEREFORE:

We join aboriginal, fishing, tourism and other public interest organizations in the Gulf region in stating that the ecology of the Gulf of St. Lawrence must take precedence over fossil fuel exploration and development. For all of the Atlantic Provinces and Quebec, the Gulf is an important long-term sustainable food source, and protecting it is vital for Canada’s social, economic and ecological future.

We must have strong federal laws that are enforced to protect fish habitat and marine resources, including the establishment of more Marine Protected Areas in sensitive zones of the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

We call for an immediate moratorium on offshore exploration and drilling for the entire Gulf of St. Lawrence, so that the provinces and the federal government can work together to protect these critical marine environments, as well as the communities that rely on this important area.

And we must all take part in the immediate transition of our economy away from fossil fuels. That transition will eventually happen as fossil fuels are depleted. It will be much less painful now, while we have the resources needed to build the necessary renewable energy systems and infrastructure. We can avoid more catastrophes.

We would appreciate acknowledgement of our submission.
Thank you,

Tony Reddin, ECO-P.E.I. Energy Project Coordinator,
81 Prince St.,
Charlottetown, PEI C1A 4R3
ecopei.project@gmail.com
Phone: 902.368.7337 or 902. 675.4093
The Environmental Coalition of Prince Edward Island (ECO-P.E.I.) is a community-based action group formed in 1988. ECO-P.E.I.’s goal is to work in partnership with others and the land itself in order to understand and improve the Island environment. Our work centers on education, advocacy and action. On-going projects include The Macphail Woods Ecological Forestry Project and the ECO-P.E.I. Energy Project www.ecopei.ca

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Cradled on the Waves: The Gulf at Risk ~~ October 15-18, PEI

September 26th, 2013

SOSS poster - October 14-18 2013-page-0

 

 

 

https://www.facebook.com/events/575211705860496/

Read here what The Guardian news of PEI says about the issue and these public talks.

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