On Sunday, February 1st, 2015, a public forum and panel discussion was held in Cornerbrook, Newfoundland at the Grenfell Campus of Memorial University. The panel included Irene Novaczek, adjunct professor of Island Studies at the University of Prince Edward Island; Chief Mi’sel Joe of the Conne River Mi’kmaq Tribal Nation; and economist Michael Bradfield, a member of Nova Scotia’s review panel for hydraulic fracturing..
The forum and panel presentations made the connections between the issue of Hydraulic Fracturing or Fracking in Newfoundland and Labrador and broader regional concerns related to oil development in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The meeting was well attended, as well as informative, with many community members sharing viewpoints in a lively public forum on the health and welfare of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, oil development and fracking.
The forum was organized and hosted by representatives of the Social Justice Co-operative http://www.socialjusticecoopnl.ca/ and Newfoundland and Labrador representatives of the Save our Seas and Shores organization http://saveourseasandshores.ca/ as well as other supportive individuals in the community.
For further coverage on the public forum, The Western Star and The Telegram have published excellent articles on the event. Bob Diamond’s Letter to the Editor of the Western Star offers a wonderful summary of the afternoon panel and discussion. The public forum is available to view in its entirety here.
APTN National News
A First Nations alliance says legal action may be the only way to stop oil and gas drilling in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
The Innu, Maliseet and Mi’kmaq Alliance is teaming up with other coalitions.
They met Thursday to brainstorm ways to continue their fight to protect what scientists call an ecologically sensitive area.
APTN’s Trina Roache has the story. View here: http://aptn.ca/news/2014/10/16/fight-stop-drilling-gulf-st-lawrence-grows/
By Adam Walsh, CBC News Posted: Oct 27, 2014 6:30 AM NT
New warnings are being raised over proposed drilling at the Old Harry reservoir beneath the Gulf of St. Lawrence, with research that suggests an oil spill at the site could affect coastlines in Atlantic Canada.
A Radio Canada-CBC investigation in partnership with the Institut des Sciences de la Mer de Rimouski warns an oil spill could be much worse than previously thought.
The investigation was aired Sunday night on a documentary produced by Radio-Canada’s science magazine program Découverte.
The Old Harry reservoir straddles the maritime border of Quebec and Newfoundland, and is north of the Maritime provinces. It is estimated to contain as much as two billion barrels of recoverable oil and and 5,000 billion cubic feet of natural gas.
Corridor Resources is seeking permission from the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board to do exploratory drilling at the site.
Corridor hired Ottawa-based SL Ross Environmental Research to do a study on the effects an oil spill could have in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
The report, presented in 2012, found that oil would quickly break down and a spill would be minimal and be unlikely to reach land.
Researchers take issue with report
But Dany Dumont, professor of physical oceanography at ISMER, said the report is flawed.
Reseacher Dany Dumont hopes that regulators take independent research on the possible risks of an oil spill into account. (CBC)
“It all started when we began to notice some flaws to our ideas in the methodology of this report and also triggered by the conversation that was going on between environment Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, whom we’re working with sometimes,” Dumont said in an interview.
“They were contesting, or arguing about some flaws in the report, so we decided to have our look in it,” said Dumont.
The study looked at where the water passing through Old Harry would go.
“We found that the extent of the oil transiting over Old Harry is much wider than what’s presented in SL Ross,” said Dumont. “If we consider just that for example, degradation is slower due to the cold environment we are in.”
A study published this spring found that the areas most likely to be affected by a spill at the site would be the coastlines of Newfoundland and Nova Scotia.
But the magnitude of any such spill could be a significant factor, the researchers found. For instance, while a concentrated spill (of less than 10 days) would affect specific areas, a major spill (lasting up to 100 days) would affect all of the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
Documentary launches own buoys
Then the Radio-Canada program Découverte tested the flow assertions of the study.
Dany Dumont, right, and Daniel Bourgault, professor of physical oceanography, point to the site of the OId Harry offshore oil prospect. (CBC)
Three buoys were deployed from a boat at the Old Harry site. Their movement was then monitored electronically.
It took 12 days for the buoys to arrive at Port Saunders on Newfoundland’s Northern Peninsula — a flow rate much faster than even what Dumont’s study had predicted.
Dumont said before any decision is made to allow drilling in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, his research should be taken into consideration.
“I would argue that it would be really great — and not only great but also essential — that independent science is also considered in the decision-making process.”
Gaps in original report ‘dangerous’
Meanwhile, the original research done for Corridor Resources has drawn criticism from an oceanographer at Memorial University in St. John’s.
Len Zedel, an associate professor at Memorial University, told CBC News that gaps in the SL Ross report are dangerous.
“Dangerous, in the sense that if the oil is heavier than expected, [and] you had more escape than you would like, it’s going to end up on the shorelines all around Newfoundland, potentially Quebec, P.E.I., New Brunswick, Nova Scotia — they’re all potentially exposed to that risk,” said Zedel.
Zedel added he finds any assertion that oil won’t reach shore following a spill hard to believe. He said it’s time for a discussion on how far people are willing to go with drilling in the gulf.
“I guess the thing that pains me about this is [that what] we’re talking about, it’s only exploration. It’s just going to be an exploration well,” he said.
“That’s true. But unless we as a community are prepared to follow up and have a production [plan], well then, it makes no sense to do the exploration.”
Zedel said once exploration starts, it will be hard to stop.
Link to the story on the CBC NL News Website: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/newfoundland-labrador/red-flags-raised-over-spill-damage-risks-at-old-harry-reservoir-1.2813767
This was a terrible headline, but we are at the ready to throw a wrench into these plans! Our press release calling for no more license extensions in the Gulf was out the exact same day! Here’s the full story …
The Canadian Press
Covered by: iPolitics, The Globe and Mail
October 14, 2014
Prime Minister Stephen Harper says Ottawa and Quebec are both expected to table legislation by the end of the year to jointly manage the petroleum resources in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
Harper made the announcement in Sept-Iles on Tuesday along with Denis Lebel, the federal cabinet minister responsible for Quebec’s economic development.
“The accord will enable the safe and environmentally responsible development of petroleum resources in the region, help create hundreds of jobs and generate revenues and economic growth for Quebec and Canada,” Harper said.
Also in attendance was Quebec’s junior transport minister, Jean D’Amour.
Harper said Ottawa and Quebec are well-positioned to table the legislative framework to implement an accord that was signed in 2011.
Ottawa estimates that the Gulf of St. Lawrence and surrounding areas have the potential for 39 trillion cubic feet of gas and 1.5 billion barrels of oil.
Not everyone was as enthusiastic about the project as Harper.
The unseen legislation promised by both the federal and provincial governments drew an immediate backlash from groups opposed to oil and gas exploration in the area.
In July, First Nations leaders from Atlantic Canada called for a 12-year moratorium on all oil exploration in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
“It is high time that governments started supporting First Nations and coastal communities over corporate oil interests,” Mary Gorman of Save Seas and Shores said in a release Tuesday.
The group includes fishing, environmental, tourism and First Nations organizations with a common goal of stopping energy exploration in the Gulf. Their immediate target is Corridor Resources Ltd., which plans to drill at a site known as Old Harry off Newfoundland in the Gulf.
“We want Corridor, unelected petroleum boards and federal and provincial governments to know that oil drilling cannot co-exist in sensitive spawning, nursery and migratory waters in one of the most fragile ecosystems on earth,” Gorman said.
A Montreal-based group called Coalition Saint-Laurent also issued a release demanding a pause while the issue goes to a full public review.
“The Gulf of St. Lawrence is a unique ecosystem, very fragile, shared by five coastal provinces,” spokesman Sylvain Archambault said in a statement.
“Instead of paving the way for oil exploration, Quebec should take a leadership role in the Gulf and work with other coastal provinces in the establishment of a general moratorium on oil activities for the entire Gulf, as well as holding an extensive public review on the matter.”
Green party Leader Elizabeth May weighed in on Twitter, calling Harper’s announcement “really bad news for whales.”
The federal government reached similar deals with Newfoundland and Labrador in 1985 and Nova Scotia in 1986.
Offshore petroleum production in Canada accounts for 25 per cent of light crude output and one per cent of the country’s annual average natural gas output.
Newfoundland and Labrador received $8.4 billion in royalties from the region covered by the 1985 accord and Nova Scotia has benefited from $2 billion in the area cited in their deal.
The Western Star Published on October 18, 2014
- Bob Diamond is voicing his concerns with more license extensions for Corridor Resources.
Diamond, a Stephenville resident, is the Newfoundland and Labrador representative on the Save Our Seas and Shores Coalition. The organization is calling on the Canada Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board to stop issuing license extensions to Corridor Resources for property EL-1105 at Old Harry in the Gulf of St Lawrence.
In Halifax back in July, First Nations groups called for a 12-year moratorium on offshore oil and gas development in the Gulf of St Lawrence.
Representatives from Save Our Seas and Shores from the four Atlantic Provinces and Quebec met in Halifax this week to announce their support for the alliance’s demand.
Six representatives from the Bay St. George area and Bonne Bay participated in the discussions through Skype.
Diamond said while Corridor Resources has not yet applied for this extension, the coalition wants to send a clear message to federal and provincial politicians and to the C-NLOPB.
“Corridor has already received two free extensions from the C-NLOPB, which amount to special treatment given to this oil company by its regulator,” Diamond said.
Diamond said the coalition wants Corridor Resources, unelected petroleum boards and federal and provincial governments to know oil drilling cannot co-exist in sensitive spawning, nursery and migratory waters.
He said the 12-year moratorium should also include onshore to offshore drilling that would make use of hydraulic fracturing, including the Green Shale Formations off the coast of western Newfoundland
The News, New Glasgow, NS
Published on October 16, 2014
HALIFAX – Just days after Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced joint plans with the government of Quebec to introduce legislation allowing for oil and gas development in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, several groups in Eastern Canada are renewing their calls for a moratorium.
Following an announcement made by the Innu, Maliseet and Mi’kmaq Alliance in Halifax last July, when First Nations called for a 12-year moratorium on offshore oil and gas development in the Gulf of St Lawrence, representatives from Save Our Seas and Shores Coalition are meeting in Halifax this week to announce their support for the Alliance’s demand.
The organization is also calling on the Canada Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (C-NLOPB) to stop issuing licence extensions, free or otherwise, to Corridor Resources for EL-1105 at Old Harry in the Gulf of St Lawrence.
“There is a duty to consult First Nations that has not been upheld thus far in this process,” said Troy Jerome, executive director of the Mi’gmawei Mawiomi Secretariat. “It makes no sense for the C-NLOPB to issue another licence extension to Corridor Resources when First Nations have called for a 12-year moratorium, unless they plan to give Corridor a 12-year extension.”
In a letter from Scott Tessier, chair and chief executive officer of the C-NLOPB, dated on July 25 and addressed to Aboriginal leaders in Quebec, he noted his appreciation of the input into the proposed offshore program from Aboriginal leaders thus far. The letter was mum on details for further participation from the public.
“While there is a substantial amount of information on our website pertaining to the Old Harry environmental assessment, the board has not yet explicitly requested input from the public or aboriginal communities,” the letter read.
The Coalition is responding to a statement made by Corridor Resources in their second quarter results that indicated the resource company would be looking for more time on its licence.
“The C-NLOPB… indicated that additional consultations on Corridor’s Old Harry Environmental Assessment (EA) are required in order for the C-NLOPB to finalize the EA,” the press release stated. “Corridor is seeking additional time to execute on its licence given the requirement to complete additional consultation. Corridor is seeking additional time to execute on its licence given the requirement to complete additional consultation.”
While the company has not yet applied for this extension, the Coalition wanted to send a clear message to federal and provincial politicians and to the C-NLOPB that further extension wouldn’t be tolerated.
“It is high time that governments started supporting First Nations and coastal communities over corporate oil interests. We want Corridor, unelected petroleum boards and federal and provincial governments to know that oil drilling cannot co-exist in sensitive spawning, nursery and migratory waters in one of the most fragile ecosystems on earth,” said Mary Gorman. “We stand with Innu, Maliseet and Mi’kmaq First Nations in calling for a 12-year moratorium on offshore oil and gas development in the Gulf of St Lawrence.”
Coalition members include coastal landowners, fishery and tourism representatives and concerned members of the public.
“Since the Gulf of St. Lawrence is six times smaller than the Gulf of Mexico, can you imagine what a similar spill would do to our billion-dollar Gulf fishery,” said Ron Heighton, president of the Gulf NS Fleet Planning Board. “The Gulf of St. Lawrence has the largest concentration of krill in the North Atlantic and among the largest lobster production in the world. The fishing industry is not willing to take this risk and we don’t want our politicians to either.”
Attempts to reach a representative of Corridor Resources Inc. were unsuccessful at press time.
On Twitter: NGNewsJohn
It’s not the kind of pet you can take home, but Islanders will soon have a chance to help name a blue whale living in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.Zack Metcalfe is one of the organizers for a group working towards raising awareness for protecting endangered species and commercial fish species in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.The unique naming contest is just one of the ways the campaign, which is a collaboration between Save Our Seas and Shores and the Sierra Club, hopes to raise that awareness during the next several months.
Metcalfe said that contest is also being run with the Mingan Island Cetacean Study.
“We’re picking a blue whale that they’ve identified that hasn’t been named yet and we’re going to put it to public opinion to toss in their name suggestions,” said Metcalfe during an interview with The Guardian at a “Blue Whale Bash” in Charlottetown Sunday.
The day saw a lobster raffle, live music and local food at the Farm Centre.
There was also a life-sized baby blue whale poster children could colour in and write messages on, as well as displays describing the marine life found in the gulf.
Metcalfe said the focus is not just whales, but all critically endangered species and commercial fisheries in the gulf.
“The blue whale is only our poster boy because it is the largest, most beautiful and one of the most threatened species out there,” he said, and pointed to a recent U.S. study from the University of Vermont. “Whales play an absolutely critical role in fishery ecosystems … they actually create energy in an ecosystem and thus allow for more fish, so they actually increase fish stocks.”
Much of the campaign’s cause is also motivated by opposition towards oil and gas exploration in the gulf.
Seismic testing has already been done in the gulf, while discussions over any future development continue.
Colin Jeffrey, the campaign’s other organizer, said the group wants individuals to start a debate on oil and gas development as well as look at other negative impacts such as increasing runoff pollution, overfishing and marine traffic.
“The idea is to get more information out there about how rich in marine life our gulf is, it’s really a nursery for a lot of our marine species,” said Jeffrey. “A lot of fish species come into the gulf where the waters are calmer and shallow and they lay their eggs there.”
Jeffrey said the group will educate the public on the many species in the gulf until the campaign ends sometime next January. Each week, a different species will be detailed online.
Jeffrey said more information on the campaign is available through links on the Atlantic Chapter of the Sierra Club’s and the Save Our Seas and Shores’ websites.
In the wake of World Oceans Day, marked with actions and celebrations by the United Nations and community groups around the world, Atlantic Canadians should pause and consider how we are treating the ocean in our own backyard.
Of special concern is the recent push to develop oil and gas deposits in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence. Not content with exploiting the 85 per cent of Canada’s eastern waters that lie outside of the Gulf, the oil and gas industry has persuaded provincial governments to open up parts of the gulf for exploration and development.
However, Canadians have more to lose from petroleum development in the gulf than outside it. With its warm, shallow waters, this inland sea acts as a vital feeding and spawning ground for most of our commercially valuable marine species and contains the largest concentration of krill in the North Atlantic.
In 1973, an interdisciplinary panel report led by Dr. Loutfi of McGill University described the gulf as “biologically, the most productive Canadian marine region” and concluded that offshore development posed too great a risk to an ecosystem of such biological diversity.
Since then, the health of our gulf has deteriorated, with overfishing, land-based pollution and climate-change-driven impacts all playing a role in its decline. Fish stocks that once created thousands of jobs in the region are now managed with the utmost care in the hopes that they will one day increase. Given the current fragile state of the Gulf of Saint Lawrence, do we really want to add the known impacts of offshore drilling to the mix?
Most worrying of all is the lack of environmental protection proposed by those overseeing oil and gas development in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence. Currently, planned development is concentrated along Newfoundland’s west coast. Like many parts of the gulf, this area has an unusual abundance of fish and provides critical feeding, spawning and wintering habitat for several groundfish and pelagic fish species, as well as threatened whale species.
For this and other reasons, it has been designated an Ecologically and Biologically Significant Area (EBSA) by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. One would think that such high biodiversity would persuade the Canada-Newfoundland Offshore Petroleum Board (CNLOPB) to at least place areas of vital marine habitat off limits to petroleum development, but this has not happened.
In May, the CNLOPB released an update of its Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) for Newfoundland’s western offshore, a document that is supposed to provide strategic planning for future offshore development and ensure environmental protection on a regional scale.
This, it does not do. Using the flimsy excuse that specific protection measures cannot be implemented before actual projects have been proposed, the CNLOPB makes no effort to place critical marine habitat off-limits to oil and gas exploration and development.
The SEA Update area also includes the “Old Harry” prospect, which is expected to be approved for exploratory drilling this summer. Proceeding with drilling here is as likely as anywhere in the gulf to cause real harm. It’s located in water six times deeper than the Hibernia site and surrounded by biologically significant areas.
As Atlantic Canadians, we have relatively little to gain and everything to lose from allowing oil and gas development to proceed in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence. The economic benefits of these industries are often touted, but increased energy efficiency and renewable energy production offer more substantial economic benefits.
According to a comprehensive study titled Putting Renewables and Energy Efficiency to Work, published in the journal Energy Policy in 2010, “all renewable energy sources generate more jobs than the fossil fuel sector per unit of energy delivered.”
Further fossil fuel production will also increase the severity of climate change, creating substantial negative impacts on our economies and our lives in the coming decades.
When you add in anticipated negative impacts to our Eastern Canadian fisheries, which contribute $3 billion a year to Atlantic economies, one really has to question if offshore drilling in the gulf is our best option for energy development in Atlantic Canada.
Colin Jeffrey is a member of Save Our Seas and Shores — P.E.I. chapter.
Go here to read the piece on the Herald’s website.
Colin’s Op Ed also appeared in The Guardian on June 10th, under the heading:
Oceans Day reminds us to protect the Gulf
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:
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
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
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: