Category Archives: Media

Media coverage of issues surrounding oil/gas development in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and press releases from Save Our Seas and Shores Coalition.

Celebrate International Oceans Day with a Picnic at the Shore, Cavendish, PEI

May 19th, 2014

In recognition of International Oceans Day, Save Our Seas and Shores PEI (SOSS PEI) is inviting everyone to a beach walk and potluck Picnic at the Shore to be held on Sunday, June 8 in the PEI National Park at Cavendish.  Park and meet at the beach access point across from Bonnie Acres Drive. The beach walk will begin at 10 a.m.and the picnic will follow at 12 noon.  Please bring a contribution of food to share, and your own dishes, cutlery and chairs or blanket.

 

“We want to celebrate the beauty and bounty of the Gulf of St. Lawrence,” said Ellie Reddin, chair of SOSS PEI.  “The Gulf is our part of the global ocean, home to approximately 6,000 marine species, and it is up to us to appreciate and protect it.  As we look out at the Gulf from the North Shore, or travel over it in a boat, the Gulf seems vast and powerful; it may be difficult to understand that it is indeed a fragile ecosystem, vulnerable to the effects of pollution and climate change. But if we look at a map, we can see how small it is compared to Hudson’s Bay or the Gulf of Mexico and, in that sense, more susceptible to environmental damage.”

 

SOSS scientific advisor Irene Novaczek will lead a beach walk to  point out some of the beneficial plant life found in nearshore waters.  “Most people cannot love what they do not know, and will not stand up to protect what they do not love.  It is time for all Islanders” says Dr Novaczek “- cradled on the waves as we are – to learn to love and respect the sea, because the sea is critical to our survival, and our economic activities are causing it serious damage.   Let’s start by learning to recognize, name and value the beautiful marine plants that nature provides as food and medicine, supplements to soil and gardens, and habitat for the myriad creatures that live in inshore waters.”

 

For further information, contact ellie@pei.net or checkwww.saveourseasandshores.ca.

 

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Contacts:  Ellie Reddin, 566-3600, ellie@pei.net

Irene Novaczek, 964-2781, inovaczek@upei.ca

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Lessons from the whales

May 15th, 2014

Published in The Western Star, May 14, 2014

http://www.thewesternstar.com/Opinion/Letter-to-the-Editor/2014-05-14/article-3724441/Lessons-from-the-whales/1

Dear Editor: Western Newfoundland has been in the news a lot in the last few weeks with stories about the nine blue whales that died in the ice close to Port aux Basques.

Two came ashore at Trout River and Rocky Harbour and others were last seen adrift north of Sally’s Cove.

These dead whales clearly demonstrate to me two very important facts:

1. The Gulf of St. Lawrence is a species-rich, semi-enclosed sea. Everyone was surprised when several dozen white-beaked dolphins, a sperm whale and nine blue whales were killed along the southwest coast by the ice this winter. The monumental size of the deaths hinted at an unseen richness.

But these are just a tiny fraction of the living whales, seals, birds, fish and other hidden creatures that make the Gulf of St. Lawrence their home (see the May issue of National Geographic for an indication of international interest in the diversity of the Gulf).

The Gulf is extremely important to marine life, to the fishery and to tourism and it is very different from Hibernia and other open-ocean oil fields. If an oil spill occurred in the Gulf, some theories indicate that floating crude would circulate around the shores of Newfoundland and Labrador, Québec, N.B., P.E.I. and N.S., smothering instead of dispersing.

2. What happens in the Gulf stays in the Gulf. It is believed the blue whales died somewhere off Cape Anguille, in the vicinity of the Old Harry geological structure. This is an area that is of great interest to exploration companies for its oil and gas potential.

The carcasses were apparently captured by the current and floated northward, along the coast of the Port au Port Peninsula, past the Bay of Islands, and north to Bonne Bay where two grounded and others continued to drift in the direction of the Strait of Belle Isle.

This shows me what would likely happen if there were to be an oil spill in the Old Harry area.

I suspect the oil would be carried by the northward current, just like the dead whales, coating the west coast in crude — including the beaches of this province’s tourism icon, Gros Morne National Park. (Watch the fascinating animation of oil spill scenarios in the Gulf at http://iopscience.iop.org/1748-9326/9/5/054001/article.)

Governments are currently considering oil exploration throughout the Gulf. Scientists believe our overuse of hydrocarbon fuels has already tipped this planet into dangerous climatic change.

Oil exploration and exploitation are accompanied by spills and leaks.

Seismic mapping is suspected of damaging marine organisms.

Shipping and pipeline construction bring their own hazards. There are other sources of oil, and other sources of energy.

Is it really necessary to sacrifice the Gulf as well?

The Gulf of St. Lawrence oil industry began when the Basques arrived at Red Bay to harvest whale oil in the 1500s.

This spring’s drifting blue whales have shown me that it should end now with a ban on hydrocarbon extraction in the precious and vulnerable ecosystem of the Gulf.

Michael Burzynski, Rocky Harbour

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Farley Mowat’s final fight goes on without him

May 14th, 2014

iPolitics featured a personal and well-researched piece on the Gulf of St. Lawrence in the wake of Farley Mowat’s passing and what is means for our battle. We miss you, Farley!

 

By  | May 10, 2014 9:30 am

In losing her friend Farley Mowat this week, Mary Gorman may have also lost the biggest fight of her life.

In the summer of 2011, the Cape Breton environmental activist introduced Mowat to one of his final acts as a green crusader – helping in the campaign to stop oil and gas exploration in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

For the past decade, petroleum firms and their regulators have been dipping their toes into the Gulf, a body of water with a cyclical current that has sustained abundant fisheries for five provinces, not to mention a robust tourism industry from Gros Morne and Cape Breton national parks to the Gaspe and the Baie des Chaleurs.

Many attempts have been abandoned. But like the tides themselves, they keep coming back. On Monday, a monumental report that is meant to prepare the waters for the next incursion was released in Newfoundland — just two days before Mowat died.

“It’s just the timing,” said Gorman, audibly emotional during a telephone interview on Thursday morning. “I hope that Farley didn’t know about their decision…I know he would have been utterly devastated,” she said.

Mowat, renowned for his writings as a naturalist and as one of the environmentalist movement’s earliest iconoclasts, had spent summers in Cape Breton since at least the 1970s, according to Gorman. He was a natural fit for Gorman’s Save our Seas and Shores campaign, which had already earned the support of actors Jason Priestly and Ethan Hawke, also property owners on the Gulf’s Nova Scotia coastline.

“He was only too willing to help because of his profound passion,” she said. “Farley was a tireless defender to the very end of his life and he recognized that our Gulf is one of the most precious ecosystems of this earth.”

But Mowat is now gone. In his wake the Western Newfoundland & Labrador Offshore AreaStrategic Environmental Assessment Update, a 713-page overview of the Gulf’s social and environmental importance, sets the stage for the campaign’s next battle.

The pressure is coming from Newfoundland because of an oil prospect called Old Harry off the westernmost tip of the island. The license for Old Harry was awarded to Corridor Resources Inc., which has onshore explorations leases along the St. Lawrence River and Anticosti Island from the Quebec government, in 2008.

It will be years before a drill hits the ocean floor because Corridor is still in the midst of completing its environmental assessment for Old Harry. After the assessment, it has to receive an approval to drill a well and an operations authorization, which require detailed safety, contingency and financial plans.

But in the meantime, the Strategic Environmental Assessment gives Old Harry and nine other exploration blocks off the western Newfoundland coast a yellow light to move ahead, according to Sean Kelly, spokesperson for the Canada-Newfoundland & Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board, the regulator that is overseeing the exploration in Newfoundland’s waters.

The common refrain among federal leaders when anxiety over oil exploration in the Gulf was brought to their attention in recent years was to wait and see what the strategic environmental assessment said. It was described to media as the process that would provide the wisdom needed to proceed.

The assessment is above all else an exhaustive list of the Gulf’s wildlife, from zooplankton to blue whales to coastal birds. There are over 40 maps of different creatures’ habitats, not including the dozens that show where specific fisheries take place.

Then there’s an extensive look at all the human values, from the towns and villages along the coasts to the national parks already protected by Ottawa, the unexploded ordinance sites and the shipping lanes.

The Gulf’s wind speeds, currents and ice formations get an examination too, right down to a map of iceberg sightings, including growlers and bergy bits.

This existing reality is juxtaposed against the offshore petroleum industry’s own footprint. Of these, the most contentious in Gorman’s view is an oil spill.

“Despite oil and gas activity technological advances, as well as enhancements in the associated safety, environmental protection and regulatory practices that have been achieved, the possibility (and prevention) of large spills remains an ongoing concern and key priority for both offshore oil and gas operators, spill responders, regulators and the public,” says the assessment.

A well blowout or other type of spill would be most dangerous – and have the greatest likelihood of impacting a large swath of the Gulf – during winter months when layers of ice cover its waters.

“While conventional methods to clean up oil (e.g. skimmers and containment booms) may be hindered by the presence of ice, oil spills are also often contained by ice…except in conditions of high currents,” it says.

With regards to the threat oil and gas exploration will present to specific ecological or human values, the assessment leaves that up to the regulatory processes for specific projects, like the one Old Harry is now undergoing.

As for many of the more overarching problems – like the need to perform a gap analysis of the Gulf’s oil spill response infrastructure – the assessment leaves that for another day.

It’s a disappointing outcome for Gorman, who feels not only that oil and gas exploration should be stopped but that the bodies that are meant to make that determination don’t go far enough to protect the environment when they say yes.

Aside from Old Harry and the Newfoundland licenses, there are more exploration projects in the Gulf coming in the medium to long term.

Quebec is in the midst of negotiating its own offshore petroleum board with Ottawa. Federal ministers have made repeated assurances to the media that the talks are progressing.

With Mowat gone, Gorman’s campaigning just became a lot lonelier.

“It’s just a huge loss,” she said.

 

http://www.ipolitics.ca/2014/05/10/farley-mowats-final-fight-goes-on-without-him/

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Environmentalists Express Concern Over Report of the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board

May 9th, 2014
MEDIA RELEASE

 

For immediate release – May 8, 2014

Charlottetown – The report of the Canada-Newfoundland & Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board this week recommending that oil and gas exploration and development can “generally proceed” in the Gulf of St. Lawrence comes as a disappointment to local environmentalists. The update on the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) acknowledged but did not respond to concerns expressed by scientists and citizens from across the region who took the time to participate in the SEA update. They pointed to the huge risks associated with exploration and drilling, to the marine ecosystem of the Gulf, and to communities that depend on fisheries and tourism.

The report indicates that some places within the Gulf may require special consideration, but it fails to address the key feature of the Gulf, which are its semi-closed nature, its ice-cover for part of the year, and the way in which currents flow. “In the event of a spill or leakage, oil would disperse widely, with disastrous effect,” says Ian Forgeron, a member of the PEI chapter of Save Our Seas and Shores.

The Gulf supports a rich ecosystem which includes several species of whale, from beluga to blue and sperm whales; the largest breeding colonies of puffins in North America, as well as lobster, snow crab, Bluefin tuna and what is left of the northern cod. People and communities around the Gulf have depended on this rich ecosystem for their existence: fishing and hunting, aquaculture, tourism. The economic value of commercial fisheries has been estimated at $1.5 billion annually. Eel and salmon in the estuaries are a source of income for First Nations communities throughout the region.

Jordan MacPhee, a UPEI student and member of SOSS PEI points out that the Gulf is already under pressure from overfishing and climate change. He says that against this background, oil and gas extraction must be seen as a very real threat. And, he says, what happened in 2010 in the Gulf of Mexico has shown us what kind of devastation can happen. “Even when the highest level of technology is applied, there is room for human error. The environmental impacts of the BP blow-out are still being felt. Livelihoods were destroyed, and people continue to report critical health effects, in part from the chemicals used to disperse the oil.”

Locally, several communities have passed resolutions calling on the Government of PEI to work towards a moratorium on drilling in the Gulf. Regionally, a coalition of Innu, Maliseet and Mi’kmaq people has formed to protest oil and gas development in the Gulf, and call for a moratorium. Similarly, in Quebec all of the municipalities in Gaspésie and les Iles de la Madeleine have joined together and have demanded a moratorium.

“We need a moratorium now”, says Forgeron. “There is too much at risk. We need to see the Gulf for what it is – one of the world’s most beautiful and rich ecosystems – and preserve it. Particularly as the inherent risks of exploration and drilling in the Gulf are at the expense of the existing fishery, tourism, and other sectors so important to the Prince Edward Island economy.”

 

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For more information about this media release please contact Ann Wheatley, 894-4573 – cooperinstitute@eastlink.ca

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NL NDP Says Put Oil and Gas in the Gulf On Hold, Province in “precarious situation”

May 8th, 2014

Breakthrough! This May 6th article (below) in The Telegram indicates Newfoundland’s NDP Party wants oil and gas activity in the Gulf put on hold because jurisdictional issues are unresolved. We hope more politicians will take leadership and protect our Gulf!

Regional environmental assessment opens Western N.L. offshore

The Telegram – Published on May 06, 2014

 Ashley Fitzpatrick

NDP advises caution in considering Old Harry and other boundary work

The area offshore Western Newfoundland is poised to open for new oil and gas industry work, including potential new exploration licences for interested players, as the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (CNLOPB) has published its updated Western Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA)

The release of the document means the restart of a round of licensing for oil exploration offshore Western Newfoundland, previously placed on hold, pending the completion of the regional environmental review.

The call for bids on those exploration licences will now close in 120 days.

Corridor Resources, a company looking to drill an exploration well on a licence area it already held right to in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, including a prospect known as Old Harry, had placed their plans on hold, at least until the CNLOPB completed its review work.

“We welcome the release of the Strategic Environmental Assessment report … We also have to understand and review the consultation process for Old Harry before commenting further. We do plan to proceed with our exploratory program at Old Harry, which is one of the most promising undrilled offshore petroleum structures in Atlantic Canada,” said a spokesman for the company, in a statement provided in response to questions on Old Harry plans.

The release of the detailed, regional environmental documentation on Monday afternoon completes a review process started in 2011.

The SEA was first completed in 2005 but due for an update. It is, generally speaking, a broad look by the CNLOPB at potential environmental implications of offshore oil exploration and development in a region.

It ultimately feeds decisions by the offshore regulator on applications for individual projects, but does not replace individual environmental assessments for proposed offshore work, such as seismic surveys or drilling.

The new Western region SEA provides summary of existing environmental baseline studies, identifies sensitive environmental areas, maps human activities offshore and notes species of concern. It highlights: areas important for marine mammals; beaches considered critical for breeding of the Piping Plover; migratory routes and rivers for salmon; areas of coral and eelgrass; lobster, herring, capelin, and cod nursery and spawning areas.

It notes seven coastal parks and protected areas under the provincial and federal government in the Western region and an Ecologically and Biologically Significant Area for groundfish, as identified under the Oceans Act.

It also identifies eight, known unexploded ordinance sites.

Fishing areas are identified, but the report also maps the distribution of commercial fishing operations and intensity of work in the region from 2005 to 2011.

The CNLOPB states clearly an oil spill is always possible.

That said, the ultimate finding of the review work — including open house consultations conducted throughout Atlantic Canada and Quebec in September and October 2012, and consultation with various provincial and federal authorities — was that oil and gas exploration offshore Western Newfoundland is considered generally permissable, if standard measures are enforced for keeping negative environmental impacts to a minimum.

In some cases, some areas, as identified in the roughly 750-page report, special mitigation measures would need to be considered.

Yet, even with the best measures, NDP leader Lorraine Michael is advising caution in considering work into the Gulf of St. Lawrence, specifically at the Old Harry prospect. Speaking to The Telegram this morning from Ottawa, where she is participating in an all-party committee presentation on the shrimp fishery, she said exploration work there should be put on hold for now.

“I think the whole Gulf issue is very problematic because of the whole boundary dispute between Quebec and us around Old Harry, No. 1. And that has not been settled yet. So I think we’re putting ourselves in a precarious situation moving ahead with the part (of the prospect) that we do have some recognized jurisdiction over,” she said.

She said granting licences and permits for work in the Gulf, without settling standing disputes with neighbouring provinces, risks increasing the intensity of those disputes. And there is also the consideration of how other provinces might be impacted in the event of an accident.

“I think we should put Old Harry on hold until all this stuff gets worked out,” she said.

Click here for more on Corridor Resources/Old Harry

Meanwhile, the Board is now deep into work on updating its Eastern SEA, including the area with all of the province’s producing oil projects and exploration areas such as the Orphan Basin and Flemish Pass. As reported, public meetings for that regional assessment were held in the fall and the call for comments on the draft report closed in April.

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Newfoundland Petroleum Board gives go ahead to oil and gas exploration in Gulf of St. Lawrence

May 7th, 2014

Newfoundland Petroleum Board gives go ahead to oil and gas exploration in Gulf of St. Lawrence

Cape Breton shores vulnerable if oil spill were to occur

by ROBERT DEVET

All five provinces that border the Gulf of St. Lawrence are at risk now that the Newfoundland Petroleum Board has approved oil and gas exploration in principle.
All five provinces that border the Gulf of St. Lawrence are at risk now that the Newfoundland Petroleum Board has approved oil and gas exploration in principle.

 

K’JIPUKTUK (Halifax) –  Just last week the National Geographic ran a story about the lush diversity of life in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, life that persists despite overfishing, climate change and other man-made pressures. The story featured gorgeous photos.

Environmentalists in Nova Scotia are becoming increasingly worried that oil and gas exploration will soon put all this beauty at risk.

They look at the release yesterday of a Strategic Environmental Assessment by the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (CNLOPB) as another nail in the Gulf’s coffin.

The assessment includes an area in the Gulf known as Old Harry, about 80 kilometers east of the Magdalen Islands and right on the cusp of the territorial boundary between Québec and Newfoundland. The northern tip of Cape Breton is roughly 130 km south of Old Harry.

Old Harry is believed to contain 2 billion barrels of oil, which makes it almost twice the size of the Hibernia oil field. It also holds 7 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

The report’ suggest that oil and gas exploration can proceed in principle as long as measures are put in place to mitigate the many risks the report identifies. Measures that will be spelled out on a case by case basis.

Mary Gorman is a spokesperson for theSave our Seas and Shores coalition (SOSS), a group that wants a total ban on all oil and gas activities in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

“This is a report that is almost schizophrenic,” Gorman tells the Halifax Media Co-op. “The report goes on for hundreds of pages about how sensitive this region is and then it comes up with recommendations that are completely disconnected from the report itself.”

Gorman is not surprised.

“You have a Board that has never said no to any project, and you have the largest oil and gas industry service provider in the world writing the report, this process has been a fait accompli since the beginning,” says Gorman.

Gretchen Fitzgerald, spokesperson for the Atlantic chapter of the Sierra Club agrees with Gorman’s analysis. She believes that the Petroleum Board’s dual mandate of promoting offshore oil and gas development and protecting the environment can not be reconciled.

Fitzgerald also points to flaws in the report itself.

“There are certain things that the report doesn’t address, like the possibility of an oil spill when the Gulf is frozen over, and scientists have said that there is no way to mitigate that,” says Fitzgerald.

“The Newfoundland ferry was stuck in the ice a couple of times this winter and can you imagine a massive cleanup in that kind of environment? We are not ready for that, and the [federal] Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable development had raised that issue in a study.”

This is not just a Newfoundland story. All five provinces bordering the Gulf of St. Lawrence could be affected by the Newfoundland decision if an oil spill were to occur.

An earlier story in the Halifax Media Co-op describes how water originating at the Great Lakes and brought to the Gulf via the St Lawrence River doesn’t just exit neatly into the Atlantic Ocean. Like a flushing toilet it swirls and it moves around.

Exploration could start as soon as next year.

Corridor Resources has applied for permission to drill for oil and gas in the Old Harry area. An environmental asssessment of that particular project is expected to be completed in a matter of months, if not weeks.

Environmentalists consider the Strategic Environmental Assessment a set back, rather than a defeat.

Sylvain Archambault, spokesperson for the Coalition St. Laurenta broad inter-provincial coalition of environmental groups and coastal communities, believes that the findings of the strategic assessment can be used to hold the CNLOPB to account when it concludes project-specific evaluations.

“If you read the report there are so many sensitive biological and ecological zones, so many species at risk, so many gaps in scientific knowledge, so many stress factors already there. Reading all that it is hard to believe that the [Corridor Resources] project can go ahead,” says Archambault.

Archambault mentions a determined indigenous resistance to oil and gas exploration in the Gulf of St. Lawrence as another hurdle that exploration proponents will face. An alliance among Innu, Maliseet and Mi’gmaq First Nations in Québec released astrongly worded statement this afternoon, blasting the CNLOPB for its lack of consultation with Aboriginal peoples.

Archambault also tells the Halifax Media Co-op that he has reasons to believe that opposition to oil and gas exploration in the Gulf of St. Lawrence is set to grow in Newfoundland in the coming months.

There is also the matter of an independent evaluation of the Corridor Resources project that was mandated by then federal Environment Minister Peter Kent.

Former New Brunswick liberal leader Bernard Richard found to his surprise that the independent review he was hired to lead was first postponed and then cancelled by the CNLOPB.

Both Gorman and Archambault say that they will continue to press for that independent review to occur.

“It is never the end of the battle,” says Gorman. “Now is the time for our politicians to step up to the plate and start representing the people who have placed their faith in them, the fishermen and the small business tourism industries, and the 50,000 renewable jobs that these groups represent, our First Nations also.”

“We will press for the independent review that this board arbitrarily abandoned,” says Gorman. “And we need to press the feds to take a look at this entire offshore regulatory structure, clearly these Boards are incapable of both promoting development and protecting the environment.”

“We are dealing with the mentality of greedy competitors who are only looking at these waters as exploitable assets, without considering renewability and the sacredness of biodiversity.”

 

Here is the link to the story on the Media Co-op website.

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ALLOWING OIL AND GAS ACTVITY OFF WESTERN NL PROVES OFFSHORE BOARD CANNOT SAY NO TO OIL INDUSTRY

May 7th, 2014

Media Advisory

May 7, 2014

The Sierra Club Canada Foundation and Save Our Seas and Shores are condemning the Newfoundland offshore board’s finding to allow the oil and gas industry to gain a toehold in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board released the results of a Strategic Environmental Assessment for Western Newfoundland on May 5th.

 “This decision confirms that these offshore boards are not capable of being a truly arms-length independent regulator,” according to Gretchen Fitzgerald, Director of the Atlantic Canada Chapter of Sierra Club. “The consultations performed as part of this assessment were woefully inadequate – and their decision that that they can mitigate oil development in sensitive marine areas with spawning, nurseries and migration happening year around for over 2200 marine species is irresponsible and sets a reckless precedent.”

The report and public consultations for the environmental assessment were performed by AMEC, which boasts on its website that it is the world’s “largest oil and gas industry services provider.”

This same offshore board approved seismic testing – which involves deafening blasts from underwater air guns – in the Gulf of St Lawrence, while endangered blue whales were migrating in 2010.

“I want this alleged regulator to state how they think they can clean up an oil spill under winter ice,” states Mary Gorman of Save Our Seas and Shores Coalition. “ This winter, they couldn’t even get the Newfoundland ferry unstuck in sea ice – how would they deal with a massive oil disaster? Furthermore, they have completely ignored the fact that the Gulf of St Lawrence has counter clockwise currents like a toilet, that only flushes once a year into the Atlantic, leaving months for a spill to wash on the beaches of NS, NB, PEI, NL and QC.”

The offshore board’s decision was released just days after the publication of the May edition of National Geographic Magazine, which features a stunning article and images of the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The article closes with the quote: ”The good news is we get to choose—algal weeds or whales, oil-eating bacteria or seals. We get to choose because for now the gulf is still wild with life, with trillions of individual organisms, and a great many hopes and dreams.”

 

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Contact:

Mary Gorman, Save Our Seas and Shores, 902.926.2128

Gretchen Fitzgerald, Campaigns Director, Sierra Club Canada Foundation, 902.444.3113  (office), 902.444.7096 (cell), @SierraClubACC

Link to National Geographic Feature, The Generous Gulf: http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2014/05/gulf-of-st-lawrence/dunn-text

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PEI Legislature – Standing Committees Recommend Request for Moratorium be Adopted

December 12th, 2013

On November 26th, 2013, that Standing Committee on Fisheries, Transportation and Rural Development recommended in its recent report to the Legislature that the government act on the requests that PEI Save Our Seas and Shores put forward in our petition calling for, “a moratorium on all oil and gas exploration and development in the Gulf of St. Lawrence”. See recommendation 5 and the related discussion here.

The transcript of Sylvain Archambault’s presentation to the Standing Committee on Fisheries, Transportation and Rural Development is now available here.

Similarly, in Prince Edward Island’s Legislative Assembly, the Standing Committee on Agriculture, Environment, Energy and Forestry presented their recommendations to the government. The entire report is of interest and, like the Standing Committee on Fisheries, Transportation and Rural Development (the report I sent you yesterday), the Standing Committee on Agriculture, Environment, Energy and Forestry recommends the requests of PEI SOSS petition be adopted.

See the video and skip forward to 88 minutes.

The written report of the Standing Committee on Agriculture, Environment, Energy and Forestry (which includes a more detailed discussion) is available here.

Let’s hope the government gives adequate weight to the recommendations of the two standing committees!

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Elizabeth May’s hero is Gulf of St. Lawrence activist Mary Gorman

December 12th, 2013
Mary Gorman and Elizabeth May

Green Party Leader Elizabeth May, left, recently named Merigomish resident Mary Gorman as her hero. May and Gorman have known each other for about a decade and have worked on environmental issues that involve protecting the Gulf of St. Lawrence and other ocean waters. (Photo: Marlene Wells)

Local environmental champion picked as hero by Green leader
Sueann Musick
The News
December 12, 2013

MERIGOMISH – A national leader has named a local woman as her hero.

Green Party Leader Elizabeth May was one of three people asked by Alternative Journal, a Canadian environmental magazine, who their heroes were and she chose local environmental activist Mary Gorman.

“I am honoured to have Elizabeth May call me her hero,” said Gorman from her Merigomish home.

Gorman, who lives in Merigomish, said she first met May about 10 years ago and they formed the Save Our Seas and Shores Coalition.

Here are May’s words in the AJ article:

MARY GORMAN works tirelessly against very large, vested interests in the fossil fuel industry, and against provincial governments that think they’re going to get revenue out of oil and gas in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, which is essentially a quite enclosed marine ecosystem. The Gulf has very lucrative fisheries still, and Mary works as a volunteer on a shoestring with no substantial organization behind her, raising awareness and effectively fighting a lot of different proposals. The current one is called Old Harry, and they want to drill a deep-water oil well midway between the Magdelene Islands and the coastland of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Without an environmental review, the Harper administration has identified the Gulf of St. Lawrence as a place where they want to develop oil and gas. It’s such a little-known issue, and there are lots of people who fight oil and gas there – the First Nations in the territory, many fishery unions, community organizations – and as is often the case in these kinds of campaigns, there’s one person who’s a linchpin and never gives up.

Mary lives in Merigomish, Nova Scotia, and works out of her home with a loose coalition called Save Our Seas and Shores. By background she is also a journalist and sometimes a screenwriter, but all her own work goes by the sidelines because she’s so dedicated to keeping the Gulf protected from oil and gas. If it wasn’t for her dogged determination, I think they would’ve had oil wells by now.

Mary and I have the same approach, I think. I’ve always advocated that you never give up. And certainly Mary proves that. You don’t turn your back on proponents of an industrial project; if you want to stay on top of it, you have to be vigilant. And Mary is very, very vigilant. She’s… indomitable.

She’s always prepared with tremendously detailed documentation and she says what’s happening, how the industry is abusing a process, how the regulators are so lax. She’s also a very effective communicator. She’s just an extraordinarily strong activist that most people wouldn’t have heard of. Mary never fails to be where she needs to be when she needs to be there.
– Originally published in A\J (Alternatives Journal), 39:6, 2013. Reprinted with permission. A\J is Canada’s environmental magazine. Read it online at alternativesjournal.ca.

http://www.ngnews.ca/News/Local/2013-12-12/article-3541478/Local-environmental-champion-picked-as-hero-by-Green-leader/1

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Coalition member is guest presenter at national Citizens Climate Lobby conference

November 17th, 2013

Mary Gorman – screenwriter, founding member of Save our Seas and Shores and grand prize winner of the Green Heroes Award was invited to present at the Citizens Climate Lobby first national conference. This recognition by a national NGO is an important breakthrough for our work in protecting the Gulf. Kudos to Mary Gorman!

New Glasgow News
Sueann Musick
November 14, 2013

MERIGOMISH, NSMj w signs – Mary Gorman will be taking her concerns over climate change and its effect on the ocean to a larger stage this weekend.

As founding member of the Save Our Seas and Shores coalition, Gorman will be a guest panelist at the Citizens Climate Lobbyists first national conference on Sunday in Gatineau, Que.

CCL is a growing organization of local volunteers in the United States and Canada in favour of a revenue-neutral carbon tax to help decrease the high amount of carbon emissions.

“The oceans are vast carbon sinks,” said Gorman. “In the 200 years since the industrial revolution began, our oceans have absorbed about 30 per cent of the carbon dioxide (CO2) released into our atmosphere by the burning of fossil fuels. Carbon dioxide dissolves in the surface water and forms carbonic acid, lowering the pH of ocean waters. The more CO2 the oceans absorb, the more acidic they become. There are serious concerns about the ability of marine ecosystems to adapt to acidification. Organisms that form calcium carbonate skeletons and shells will be greatly limited in their ability to form these outer protective shells. Commercial species such as lobster and shellfish are vulnerable to this impact.”

Gorman said the economy cannot continue to exist if government leaders ignore climate change. For example, she added, the Calgary floods and the recent typhoon in the Philippines are perfect examples of enormous costs if we don’t acknowledge that the climate is changing.

“What are natural disasters costing us?” she asked. “It is dumb economics to ignore our natural world. It is a giant credit card that is maxed out,” she said. “We can’t borrow anymore and we aren’t even making minimum payments.”

She said the conference is a good chance for her to inform people on a national level about the fragility of the ocean as well as share her views on the opposition to drilling in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

The Save Our Seas and Shores Coalition says the Gulf of St. Lawrence’s multi-billion dollar renewable fishery and tourism industries deserve protection. The group wants the government to place a moratorium on oil and gas exploration so that these industries are not in jeopardy like those hurt in the Gulf of Mexico this past summer.

Other guest panelists at the conference include Dr. Shi-ling Hsu, author of The Case for a Carbon Tax, Sam Daley-Harris, founder of the anti-poverty organizations Results and current CEO for the Centre for Citizen Empowerment and Transformation as well as Celine Bak, president of Analytica Advisors and co-lead of The Canadian Clean Energy Coalition.

Cathy Orlando, national manager for Canada’s Citizens Climate Lobby, said Gorman was invited to be a guest speaker at the national conference because she supports a carbon tax and it will allow her to speak about her concerns in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

She said a carbon tax is levied on the carbon content of fuels such as coal, gas or oil and the extracted revenue is collected by the government and returned to Canadian citizens in the form of rebate cheque.

Experts believe the extra tax will force users of these fuels to cut down on their consumption in order to save money, alternatively looking at more natural sources of energy.

She said members at the conference and those of the CCL will be lobbying members of parliament to instate a carbon tax in Canada.

“Political will is keeping this from happening,” said Orlando. “There is a lot of fear in what a carbon tax will entail, but we know that we can have a low carbon economy and everyone can come out ahead.”

http://www.ngnews.ca/News/Local/2013-11-14/article-3481780/Local-coalition-member-attending-national-conference-on-climate/1

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