Award-winning journalist Maureen Googoo, owner/editor of Kukukwes.com covered this story. The excerpts and photographs come from the complete article on Kukukwes.com, an independent Aboriginal news organization. “Mi’kmaq leaders from Listuguj, Gespeg and Gespegagiag in Quebec – which form the Mi’gmawei Mawiomi Secretariat – worked with officials with Paqtnkek and the Save Our Seas and Shores coalition to ask the Hollywood actor help them raise awareness about the negative effects of offshore drilling in the Gulf area. Troy Jerome, executive director of the Mi’gmawei Mawiomi Secretariat in Quebec, said Canada should not allow offshore drilling in the Gulf of St. Lawrence without first consulting with and speaking to the Mi’kmaq, Maliseet and Innu peoples.”
In this OpEd, Gretchen Fitzgerald, director of Atlantic Canada chapter, Sierra Club tells us how the Chronicle Herald article “Oil, Water and Old Harry” got it wrong when it implied that oil prices are the most important obstacle to oil and gas development in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. “The implication of this slant is that if oil prices rise, we will see development go ahead. The article also got it wrong when it implied that the threat of one oil well was insignificant to the Gulf’s ecology and economy. Finally, the article also ignored the fact that a single well, as damaging as it could be, is merely the toehold for future development, and that in the context of global climate change, it is imperative we shift away from these dangerous fossil fuel projects.” She concludes: “In the weeks leading up to UN negotiations on climate change in Paris, we need to acknowledge that some oil will need to be left in the ground to secure our future. Highly significant ecological areas such the Gulf should be top on our list to declare off-limits, whether oil is at $40 or $400 a barrel”.
Dr. Samantha Joye, a microbiologist in the Department of Marine Sciences at the University of Georgia, and her colleagues, has shown that Corexit seems to inhibit, rather than facilitate, the ability of microbes to break down oil, leaving the toxic oil in the water for longer. This throws into question a big part of the case for using chemical dispersant on oil spills.Should authorities avoid dispersants in the future? “That’s an extraordinarily complicated question,” says Joye. Corexit has its problems, but it does seem to keep oil away from coasts. “Nobody wants to see oiled birds, turtles, and dolphins, but the bottom line is that if you disperse that oil, it’s still in the water. You feel better, but is it improving the situation? My gut instinct is that I would put my faith in the microbial communities to do their job.”
So if we allow drilling on the Atlantic coast, why would we not allow it in the gulf? Both are important fishing grounds that could be badly hurt by an oil spill. And the boats that take fishermen, scientists and tourists out to both waterways are powered by hydrocarbons that came out of the ground somewhere.“We recognize as a society that not every activity can take place everywhere,” said Boris Worm, a marine biologist at Dalhousie University. “We don’t do nuclear testing everywhere. We don’t build polluting industries in residential areas.” He said he doesn’t think there should be drilling on the Scotian Shelf or in the gulf. But the gulf, said Worm, would be particularly sensitive to a spill due to a combination of geography and biology.It exchanges water with the Atlantic Ocean through the Cabot Strait and the Strait of Belle Isle. This means that water circulates around the gulf before draining out.The Gulf of St. Lawrence is also significantly colder than the Gulf of Mexico and lacks the bacteria that work to naturally break down oil. So oil spilled in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and carried into river estuaries would be there for a long time, said Worm. Those salt marsh estuaries, protected by the Atlantic’s big waves, are nurseries for all manner of sea creatures. The spartina salt grasses of those estuaries, meanwhile, produce more biological matter per hectare than the rainforest and flush it out to fuel the ocean food web.
This article by Emily Hiltz of the Antigonish newspaper The Casket provides excellent coverage of comments made by Ethan Hawke, Chief Scott Martin of Listuguj First Nation in Quebec, Paqtnkek Chief Paul James (PJ) Prosper, Executive director of the Mi’gmawei Mawiomi Secretariat Troy Jerome and Mary Gorman of our Save Our Seas and Shores Coalition made during the October 26th press conference and Mi’kmaq water ceremony at Pomquet Harbour.
Hollywood actor Ethan Hawke lent some star power to environmentalists and First Nations groups in Nova Scotia who are calling for a ban on offshore drilling in the Gulf of the St. Lawrence. Hawke said he’s glad his celebrity drew media to cover the event. But he also downplayed his participation. “I know the real difference will be made in other rooms,” he said. “It’s just an opportunity to talk about it . . I was invited to be a part of this so I take it seriously.” [Read the full article for quotes from Chief PJ Prosper, Chief Scott Martin, MP Roger Cuzner and Save Our Seas and Shores spokesperson Mary Gorman. Two excellent videos are included in this article.]
Hawke was a special guest of an event in Afton in Nova Scotia’s Antigonish County, organized by the leadership of four First Nations groups from Nova Scotia and Quebec: the Paqtnkek, Listuguj, Gesgapegiag and Gespeg First Nations. Troy Jerome, executive director of the Mi’gmawei Mawiomi Secretariat, says First Nations groups and organizations like the Save Our Seas and Shores Coalition have been working for years to raise awareness and Hawke’s name brings new attention to their concerns. Jerome hopes the election of the federal Liberals will mean more co-operation from government, which is a promise Liberal candidates were making at doorsteps, he says. He hopes the news coverage from Monday’s event will encourage Canadians to contact their MPs to talk about drilling. [See full article for great video footage. CBC’s original post contains photo feed]
Asked what bearing actor Ethan Hawke’s opinion had on potential exploratory drilling in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, Mary Gorman was quick with a response. “The difference is that you’re here,” the co-founder of Save Our Seas and Shores told the many media outlets gathered. Gorman joined Mi’kmaq leaders and the celebrated actor on Monday morning in Antigonish County to once again call for a 12-year moratorium on exploratory drilling for hydrocarbons in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Energy Department spokeswoman Sarah Levy MacLeod said Monday that if any drilling were planned for the small area of the Gulf of St. Lawrence that Nova Scotia is responsible for, the Mi’kmaq would be consulted first. [Video footage included in full article].
Hawke was the special guest of the Mi’kmaq community’s annual water ceremony held Monday in Pomquet Harbour near Antigonish.
Hawke, who owns land in nearby St. George’s Bay, was asked to attend the event in support of his neighbours.
The actor said he wanted to stand up for “an absolutely magical place” where he has lived for parts of the summer for the past 15 years. Hawke said he’s glad his celebrity drew media to cover the event. But he also downplayed his participation.
“I know the real difference will be made in other rooms,” he said. “It’s just an opportunity to talk about it. I was invited to be a part of this so I take it seriously.” The Mi’kmaq and environmental groups want a 12-year moratorium on any potential drilling in the gulf. They say it will take that long to complete a proper and comprehensive environmental assessment of a bio-diverse area of the ocean. “While Canada’s thinking about drilling out there . . . we are telling them that they can’t do it without talking to the Mi’kmaq,” said Troy Jerome, executive director of the Mi’gmawei Mawiomi Secretariat.
Jerome said with a new Liberal government about to take power in Ottawa Canadians need to ask their MPs what they are doing about the gulf. “Ethan Hawke is here doing something about the gulf, what are you (MPs) doing about the gulf?” he said.
Hawke says the native community have proven themselves to be trustworthy stewards of the land and it was an honour to take part in their event. The Mi’kmaq and environmental groups want a 12-year moratorium on any potential drilling in the gulf. They say it will take that long to complete a proper environmental assessment of a bio-diverse area of the ocean.