Category Archives: PEI

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.

Share Button

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

Share Button

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.

Share Button

MP Sean Casey, Charlottetown responds to Strategic Environmental Assessment ~ urges adherence to precautionary principle in the Gulf

September 26th, 2013

Scott Tessier
Chair and CEO
Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board Fifth Floor, TD Place
140 Water St.
St. John’s, NL A1C 6H6

September 20, 2013

Dear Mr. Tessier:

Re: Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) from the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (C-NLOPB)

The most recent Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) from the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (C-NLOPB) highlights serious concerns for the five provincial coastlines at risk, including my own province of Prince Edward Island. Making a decision on the possibility of oil and gas seismic surveys and exploratory drilling without first acknowledging, and rectifying, the many gaps of scientific knowledge found in your report could result in harm to the ecosystem and surrounding provinces.

In hearing from those who are scientifically qualified to comment on the matter, I am of the opinion that the Gulf of St. Lawrence is already in fragile health. With this in mind, it seems that the correct thing to do in this situation is adhere to precautionary principal and withhold development until it can be proven to be completed without any harm to the ecosystem.

Additionally, the consultation process undertaken resulted in concerns and issues highlighted by not only my constituents and other Islanders, but residents of the other Atlantic Provinces. My assistant and I were listed as stakeholders consulted but were only there due to an invitation from a consultant hired by Corridor Resources.

I find it troubling that these concerns seem to have been accepted as mere challenges rather than reasons to review the consultation process again or halt the project. There is a vast difference between “consultation” and “placation” and I sincerely hope we are not dealing with the latter.

Seismic surveys and exploratory drilling have the potential to devastate Prince Edward Island’s socio-economic situation as fishing is one of PEI’s primary industries, and employers. Besides the obvious threat to the fishing industry, granting further exploration rights has the added side effect of potentially affecting our tourism industry. The Gulf of St. Lawrence is a beautiful natural asset, and as you stated in your report, an environmentally sensitive area that deserves the utmost care for the sake of our future dependence on its resources.

While provincial boundaries dividing the Gulf of St. Lawrence are man-made and therefore mostly superficial, the implications of oil development are not. I would ask at least for the consultation process to be reviewed and undertaken in a genuine manner to hear the concerns of the communities affected by this project prior to exploratory or development deeds being released.

Sincerely,
Sean Casey,
Member of
Parliament
Charlottetown

Share Button

PEI chapter Save Our Seas and Shores deliver strong response to C-NLOPB SEA update

September 25th, 2013

Submission from Save Our Seas and Shores PEI to the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board

At its meeting on September 10, 2013, members of the Prince Edward Island Chapter of Save Our Seas and Shores decided to make the following submission in response to the draft Western Newfoundland Offshore Area Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) update report.

WHEREAS the Western Newfoundland Offshore SEA draft report clearly acknowledges the following:

  • The biological importance and sensitivity of Newfoundland’s offshore area in the Gulf of St. Lawrence;
  • The importance of fisheries and tourism to the regional economy;
  • Not enough is known about the biology of the Gulf and the impact of oil and gas activities on it;
  • Uncertainties about the efficiency of mitigation measures;
  • The enormous impact that any oil spill in the Gulf would have;
  • The lack of social acceptance, in any of the five provinces bordering on the Gulf, of the idea of oil exploration in the Gulf.

WHEREAS intervention capacity in the Gulf of St. Lawrence is inadequate (as has been shown by the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development);

WHEREAS in the early 2000s, the Fisheries Resource Conservation Council (FRCC) and the Senate Standing Committee on Fisheries both recommended a moratorium on petroleum exploration in the Gulf;

WHEREAS liability for oil companies is still limited to $30 million, and even if increased to $1 billion as currently proposed, would remain inadequate considering the potential costs associated with a major spill;

WHEREAS any major spill could negatively affect all five Gulf provinces; and

WHEREAS an integrated environmental review of polluting industrial activities and climate change and their cumulative impact in the entire Gulf of St. Lawrence has still not been performed;

The PEI Chapter of Save Our Seas and Shores recommends that the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board :

  • Put a moratorium on the issuing of any new exploration licenses in the Western Newfoundland offshore area;
  • Cancel the call for bids issued on May 16th 2013 for four parcels in the Western Newfoundland offshore area;
  • Refrain from giving authorization to projects currently submitted in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, including Corridor Resources’ Old Harry project and Shoal Point Energy and Black Spruce Exploration’s Western Newfoundland drilling program.
Share Button

A PEI response to AMEC’s draft Western Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Area Strategic Environmental Assessment

September 12th, 2013

Prince Edward Islanders are also responding!

Here is Ellie Reddin’s submission to the Canada Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board.

August 6, 2013

Elizabeth Young
Environmental Assessment Officer
Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board
Fifth Floor, TD Place
140 Water St.
St. John’s, NL A1C 6H6

Dear Ms. Young:

Thank you for sending me a copy of the draft Western Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Area Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) Update report and inviting me to provide comments. I found the report to be informative and extensive. These are my comments:

Consultation report:
Throughout the draft report, references to feedback from the consultation sessions refer to wide-ranging and diverse comments, but do not indicate that comments urging protection of the Gulf of St. Lawrence from oil and gas exploration and development were much more frequent than those promoting such activity. Of 81 written submissions included on the C-NLOPB website, only seven were in favour of exploration and development. In addition, I counted 516 comments from the consultation sessions in the draft Consultation Report (Appendix A). Only eight of these comments were in support of oil and gas exploration and development in the Gulf and two of those eight comments included caveats regarding environmental issues. If one were to read the draft report without reading the detailed consultation results, one would be led to believe pro-development comments were as frequent as cautionary comments. That is simply not the case. The final report should more accurately reflect the fact that the great preponderance of comments opposed oil and gas exploration and development in the Gulf.

Oil spills:
The draft report repeatedly states that accidental oil spills and blowouts are “unlikely” or “rare”. This repetition serves to downplay the eventuality of spills.

One of the studies noted in the draft report (p. 57) estimated blowout frequency during exploration drilling at 1 in 267 wells, based on US data from 1980-2010. A second estimate (1 in 6,250), also mentioned on page 57, is said to be “based on more recent data”, but it covers 1988-2009 so it is not based on more recent data, just a shorter time period. Also, it is clear that the 1 in 267 wells estimate is based on approximately 12,000 US offshore exploration wells, but no information is provided about the number, type or location of wells included in the lower estimate.

The above-noted estimates are for blowouts only. Spills not constituting blowouts are much more common.

In the NL Offshore Area, using C-NLOPB data, the draft report (pp. 58-59) indicates there were 238 spills greater than one liter in sixteen years with a total spill volume (including smaller spills) of 469,144 liters and an average of 29,322 liters of oil spilled per year. Spills have occurred in every year. Clearly, spills are not “unlikely”. The statistical probability of catastrophic blowouts might be low, but minor spills are apparently inevitable.

Given the much longer history of oil and gas exploration and development off the east coast of Newfoundland, one would assume that the spill data is from that area, although that is not explicitly stated in the draft report. The cumulative effects over time of minor spills in the sensitive, semi-enclosed Gulf of St. Lawrence ecosystem would be much more serious than in the Atlantic Ocean and the effect of even one large spill or blowout could be devastating. The final report should avoid minimizing the serious risks posed by oil spills in the Gulf by removing the frequently repeated statements that they are unlikely.

Use of Dispersants:
In Table 2.2 (p. 19) it is stated that the topic of “use of oil dispersants and their potential effects” is addressed in Sections 3.1, 3.2, 5.1, 5.2, 5.3, 5.4, and 5.5, but in fact this issue is not addressed at all. I could find no information in the draft report about the use of dispersants, in particular Corexit, to clean up oil spills. Recent research from the Georgia Institute of Technology and Universidad Autonoma de Aguascalientes (UAA), Mexico, found that mixing Corexit with oil increased toxicity of the mixture up to 52-fold over the oil alone. [See http://phys.org/news/2012-11-gulf-mexico-clean-up-times-toxic.html and http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/23/corexit-oil-spill-gulf_n_3134963.html , as well as the video link in the next paragraph. The final report should indicate whether dispersants are being used in the NL Offshore and, if so, should discuss the potential harm caused by dispersants and recommend alternative methods for dealing with oil spills.

Long-term Impact of the 2010 Gulf of Mexico Blowout:
Table 5.1 on page 392 includes the following statement regarding the Gulf of Mexico blowout: “There is no clear picture yet concerning short-and-long-term effects on habitats and marine organisms.” This 37 minute video documents some of the short-term and long-term impacts.

Hydraulic Fracturing:
On pp. 429-430, the draft report mentions some research on the possible contamination of drinking water arising from hydraulic fracturing. The following article discusses a study which found contamination of drinking water with methane, ethane and propane near shale gas wells in Pennsylvania.

Fall 2012 Report of the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development:
The Commissioner’s report is mentioned in passing on page 70. In addition, several references throughout the draft SEA update report are made to C-NLOPB’s commitment to follow up on one of the Commissioner’s recommendations by completing a review of the spill response capability of operators under its jurisdiction. The Commissioner’s report ought to be taken very seriously. All of the recommendations and C-NLOPB’s response to each should be set out more fully in the final SEA update report.

Use of Acronyms:
Acronyms are used throughout the draft report and it is difficult for the reader to always remember what they represent. All acronyms used and the full titles they represent should be listed at the front of the final report for reference. This is a minor point, but it would make the report easier to read.

Summary:
As stated on page 5 of the draft report, “The specific ‘strategic decision’ that the SEA Update is intended to inform is therefore whether to issue further exploration licenses in the Western NL Offshore Area, and if so, to identify any environmental components and issues which should be considered in taking these future decisions and actions.”

The draft report delineates the potential harmful effects of various components of oil and gas exploration in the Gulf, including seismic surveys, traffic, structures, lights, routine discharges, drill muds, other disturbances, well abandonment, and accidental spills. It discusses the risks to fish and fish habitat, plankton, shell fish, water birds, marine mammals, turtles, endangered species and species at risk, protected and sensitive areas, fisheries, and tourism, as well as noting important data gaps. The draft report also discusses the dynamic and complex Gulf ecosystem and the effects of factors such as climate change and aquatic invasive species, and includes statements such as “it is generally agreed that there has been a trophic shift over the last 30 years that may not yet be stabilized, and consequently, the ecosystem may have somewhat less of a buffering capacity to potential stressors” (page 399).

The logical conclusion, based on the information in the draft report, is that the possible benefits of additional exploration licences and, potentially, production licences are outweighed by the known risks.
 Unfortunately, the solid and well-documented information about risks and impacts is undermined by weak suggested mitigations, repeated assertions that the identified issues will be dealt with by project-specific environmental assessments, and a tendency to minimize potential impacts. Some examples of this tendency to minimize are noted in this letter.

I sincerely hope the final SEA Update report will recommend, and C-NLOPB will make, strategic decisions to:
• cancel the current Call for Bids;
• put a moratorium on issuing any further licences; and
• be extremely diligent, using a precautionary approach and rigorous project-specific environmental assessments, before approving any further activities under current licences in the Western Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Area.

Thank you for the opportunity to respond.

Sincerely,

Ellie Reddin

cc Steve Bonnell, AMEC Environment and Infrastructure
Greg Wilson, Manager of Environmental Land Management

Share Button

Photojournalist’s account of Gulf of Mexico disaster

June 8th, 2013

John Wathen is a photojournalist with the Waterkeeper Alliance. In this video, he presents his footage of the Gulf of Mexico taken immediately after the BP Deepwater Horizon blowout to an audience in New Zealand.

Share Button

PEI group’s key concerns about oil and gas development in the Gulf – Commentary by Ellie Reddin

May 17th, 2013

By Ellie Reddin
Commentary
The Guardian
May 17, 2013

(Published title: Our key concerns about oil development in the Gulf)

Members of Save Our Seas and Shores-PEI Chapter (SOSS PEI) were taken aback by the comments made by Premier Ghiz on CBC Radio after our petition signed by 1,212 Islanders was presented to the legislative assembly by Liberal MLA Buck Watts on April 30.

His response, that “there is no need for a moratorium on drilling in P.E.I. territorial waters because P.E.I. doesn’t have any oil,” gives us reason to believe he is not aware of the important role he could take to protect our Island and the Gulf of St. Lawrence from potential disaster.

By declaring a moratorium as our petition requests, the P.E.I. government would send a clear message to our neighbouring provinces and the federal government that P.E.I. will take the necessary time to consider the true value of the Gulf of St. Lawrence; and that P.E.I. is not willing to passively accept the risks inherent in projects presently being considered, such as Corridor Resources’ Old Harry Prospect.

As we have seen in the past, most notably with the BP Deepwater Horizon blowout in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, the impact of oil spills can be devastating for the environment and for the industries – fishing, aquaculture and tourism – that depend on a healthy marine ecosystem. In the case of the Old Harry Prospect, P.E.I. has nothing to gain and everything to lose.

Premier Ghiz might be technically correct in saying that P.E.I. does not have oil in its territorial waters since legally territorial waters extend only to the low-water mark. But our petition refers to both oil and gas. And we know there has been a “significant discovery” of gas off East Point in an area considered part of P.E.I.’s “portion” of the gulf (for the purposes of federal-provincial co-management agreements on petroleum development). This site is under permanent lease to BP Canada Energy Company. BP obtained an exploration license in 1987. That licence has since expired and it does not appear that BP is likely to seek a new exploration license anytime soon. This raises the following question: Is the provincial government planning to sign a federal-provincial agreement for petroleum development in its portion of the Gulf so that at some future date the province could receive royalties if BP were to seek a new exploration licence?

In addition to requesting a moratorium in P.E.I. waters, our petition requested that the P.E.I. government work with the governments of Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec and the federal government to protect and manage the gulf ecosystem and to establish a permanent ban on exploration and drilling for oil and gas in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

To date, only Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia have implemented petroleum development agreements with the federal government and have consequently established offshore petroleum boards; in addition, only Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia have petroleum development interests in the Atlantic Ocean. The Nova Scotia board has not been active in the gulf for more than 10 years. All five provinces share the risks, but only Newfoundland and Labrador will reap any benefits from current licences in the gulf.

Quebec has signed but not yet implemented a federal-provincial agreement. Quebec still has an ongoing moratorium in its part of the gulf and is currently conducting a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) to help determine whether or not it should lift its moratorium. Recent information indicates that New Brunswick intends to sign and implement an agreement as soon as possible.

Instead of taking a far-sighted, environmentally responsible stand, it seems all five provinces are intent on rushing us headlong into folly and disaster. Since Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador have offshore petroleum agreements and boards, it appears that all the provinces must have them, regardless of the consequences. We had hoped for better from our government. It is the governments, not the petroleum boards, who are ultimately responsible for the fate of the gulf.

Over the past two years, members of SOSS have met with Premier Ghiz and have sent him several letters with attached studies documenting the risks of oil and gas development in the gulf and discussing the shortcomings of the current oversight process. His statement that “we trust the systems that are in place now to ensure that the regulations and environmental procedures are being followed” indicates that he is not aware of the following facts:

• In his Fall 2012 report, Scott Vaughan, commissioner of the environment and sustainable development, Office of the Auditor General of Canada, clearly pointed out that Canada is not technically ready to face a major spill in the gulf.

• Environment Canada has determined that a major spill would have multi-provincial impacts and the David Suzuki Foundation has carried out oil spill simulations that indicate all five provinces surrounding the gulf could suffer from the impacts of a spill.

• Costs to British Petroleum associated with the Deep Water Horizon blowout in the Gulf of Mexico are estimated at more than $40 billion. In Canada, however, liability for costs resulting from a major spill or blowout in the Gulf of St. Lawrence is limited to $30 million. Taxpayers would be responsible for all costs above $30 million.

The Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board is currently updating its Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) and the P.E.I. government has a representative on the Working Group for the SEA. This leads to the following questions: What policy position has that representative been instructed to take? Are P.E.I.’s interests, including the interests of Islanders who make their livings from fishing, tourism and aquaculture, the interests of the Mi’kmaq First Nation and the interests of future generations, being adequately considered during the SEA process?

If oil development is allowed to continue in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and a major oil spill or blowout occurs, how will all those who lose their livelihoods be compensated?

What consideration is being given to the effects of seismic testing and drilling on blue whales, dolphins, leatherback turtles, seabirds, fish and other marine wildlife in the gulf?

We have respectively requested that the government of P.E.I. provide answers to these questions.

Ellie Reddin co-ordinates the P.E.I. Chapter of Save Our Seas and Shores
(saveourseasandshores.ca)

Share Button

PEI Save Our Seas and Shores take 1,200 signatures to Legislature, Premier Ghiz gives limited response, and Richard Raiswell makes political commentary

May 1st, 2013

Concerns over oil drilling brought to P.E.I. Legislature
May 1, 2013
The Guardian (PEI)
Teresa Wright

A group of concerned citizens calling on the Prince Edward Island government to declare a moratorium on offshore drilling in the Gulf of St. Lawrence brought their concerns to the P.E.I. legislature Tuesday.
sos2logo
Representatives from Save Our Seas and Shores brought forward a petition with more than 1,200 signatures, asking the P.E.I. government to take the lead in opposing an offshore oil prospect being explored by Corridor Resources Inc.

The petition was tabled in the P.E.I. legislature Tuesday.

“We’re very concerned about the effects on the Gulf of St. Lawrence if seismic testing and drilling for oil goes ahead,” said Ellie Reddin.

“People remember in 2010 the big oil blowout in the Gulf of Mexico, well, the Gulf of St. Lawrence is a lot smaller and the effects could be devastating for tourism and our fisheries industries as well as for people with coastal properties.”

Corridor Resources has applied to the CanadaNewfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board to drill a well east of Prince Edward Island.

The area known as the ‘Old Harry’ prospect in the Laurentian Channel in the Gulf of St. Lawrence is one of the largest undrilled prospects in Eastern Canada and is estimated to hold up to two billion barrels of recoverable oil or up to five trillion cubic feet of recoverable gas.

If regulatory approval is obtained, the proposed well should be drilled by the end of 2014, according to the company’s website.

The drilling project has garnered much concern and criticism by individuals and groups across Atlantic Canada and the Iles de la Madeleine who are worried about the devastating effects a possible spill or blowout.

Grade 8 students Lilly Hickox and Caroline Galloway decided to turn their concern into action.

They saw volunteers with Save our Seas and Shores at the Charlottetown Farmer’s Market and were inspired to help spread the group’s message and recruit support.

They took brochures and signs to their school and encouraged fellow students and teachers to sign their name to the petition.

The two students gathered almost half the total number of signatures on the petition.

We think it’s important to preserve the environment, and we don’t want an oil spill because it could kill marine life and there are endangered species too that could be at risk,” Galloway said.

“Hopefully, our work will result in positive results so that they will stop the plans for oil drilling in the Gulf of St. Lawrence,” Hickox said.

Premier Robert Ghiz said he hopes the environmental reviews done by the federal offshore petroleum board overseeing this project will be diligent in ensuring it will not go ahead if it poses a risk to the waters off P.E.I.

“It’s something that we’ll watch, but we trust the systems that are in place now to ensure that the regulations and environmental procedures are being followed,” Ghiz said.

*************************

In an interview with CBC, Premier Robert Ghiz responded to the petitions saying that there is no need for a moratorium on drilling in P.E.I. waters because P.E.I. doesn’t have any oil. The story of the petition was also covered in The Telegram (St. John’s) on May 2nd. Richard Raiswell, a political columnist with CBC radio’s Mainstreet, takes notice of Premier Ghiz’s careful wording, and shares his own thoughts about oil and gas development in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Should the provincial government on Prince Edward Island take steps to prevent drilling for natural gas in the Gulf of St. Lawrence? Commentary by Richard Raiswell.

Share Button

PEI tourism group concerned about oil spill impacts, 600 Islanders sign petition

March 20th, 2013

Gulf oil development big concern for group fearing damage to ecosystem, P.E.I. economy

March 20, 2013
The Guardian
Brian McInnis

Oil development in the Gulf of St. Lawrence is a growing concern for environmentalists as well as some business sectors, especially tourism, and in fact the Island East Tourism Group is following the issue closely because an oil spill could have disastrous impact on tourism.

Doug Deacon, chair of the group, says the group has discussed the issue at a recent board meeting and one member has been closely following the file.

“One of the issues for the board of directors is the liability for the tourism industry that an oil spill might represent … and it is a valid concern to be addressed as an industry.”

He said the board is worried that many operators do not have liability insurance in case of a spill or some other issue associated with offshore drilling.

The Island East Tourism Group manages the Points East Coastal Drive from Stratford to Souris.

A petition is being circulated by Save our Seas and Shores Coalition P.E.I. Chapter opposing offshore oil and gas drilling in the gulf which will be presented to the P.E.I. legislature. It has been in circulation since January and has about 600 signatures.

“Because what they are doing is offshore oil development, but in the gulf which is not really an offshore area and the ecosystem is so sensitive and the tourism industry is so dependent upon the gulf being clean and the contingencies they are putting in place for an oil spill are so inadequate…it is just a case of money and oil pushing through against all other concerns,” said Andrew Lush, a member of the coalition.

He said Prince Edward Island will not receive any benefit from the drilling because it is being managed out of Newfoundland. Lush said that if development is allowed to go ahead the large number of leases in the gulf mean it will be a matter of when, and not if, a spill occurs.

“It (the oil spill) will just swirl around because it takes eight months to flush out the gulf and it will pollute our beaches and estuaries and it (is) just an unacceptable risk.”

Having said that, he clarified that his group is not against offshore development.

“It’s just that the gulf is not an offshore region and it is so important for tourism, fisheries and for the ecosystem there should not be oil development there.”

Save our Seas and Shores is a group consisting of people from New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Quebec. He said opposition is particularly strong in the Iles de la Madeleine which is close to the proposed Old Harry development.

Lush said there has been no environmental assessment carried out, but there has been a strategic environmental review done, which he said was basically a farce.

“It was just a show of what they were doing and they were not taking any serious feedback nor doing any presentations so we are extremely concerned this is going to go ahead. As you know the federal government is weakening the environmental assessment process so unfortunately they have put money and oil above the health of the environment.”

Share Button