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Hospitality NL calls for comprehensive analysis into impacts of fracking

For immediate release

May 17, 2013 – Hospitality Newfoundland and Labrador strongly urges for a hold on slick-water hydraulic fracturing in the province, especially within the greater boundaries of Gros Morne National Park, until a comprehensive analysis of the long-term impacts of the proposed hydraulic fracturing projects is completed.

“As the tourism industry association of Newfoundland and Labrador, Hospitality NL cannot support an initiative that has the potential to negatively impact a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the absence of comprehensive analysis. Gros Morne is a natural attraction that has been the target of significant and strategic tourism investment for close to 40 years and is one of the biggest tourism demand generators in our province,” says Hospitality NL Chair, Darlene Thomas. “Those in support of the project say that the impacts on tourism will be minimal but this simply cannot be known at this stage of the proposed development, in the absence of comprehensive study of our unique circumstances. If this fracking project is indeed such a positive step forward for the region, allowing the time for a comprehensive analysis will provide evidence of this and give everyone involved an opportunity to fully understand what will happen if this project goes ahead.”

“Hospitality NL is not opposed to oil and gas development and understands its value to both the economy of Newfoundland and Labrador and the tourism industry,” adds Thomas. “However, a balanced approach must be taken between such developments and the protection of natural tourism assets in our province that enhance the quality of life for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador and serve as the foundation of other revenue-generating industries. We have serious concerns about any development project that has the potential to degrade the exceptional natural beauty, brand, reputation and UNESCO designation of the Gros Morne region and upset its delicate ecological system. There are potential negative impacts with air pollution, water pollution, heavy truck traffic, visual impacts, hazardous fracking chemicals, spills, visitor perceptions and brand erosion that must be considered.

“Our association along with our tourism partners throughout the province are adamant that due diligence is critical in understanding the crossroads this province has reached in either approving or rejecting projects that may damage our most treasured and revered natural areas. Policies and procedures, based on sound research and detailed analysis, must be established and enacted before balanced decisions can be made concerning fracking, land use development and resource management, especially in the vicinity of UNESCO World Heritage Sites that are among the biggest demand generators for tourism in our province.”

Hospitality Newfoundland and Labrador is the provincial tourism industry association dedicated to advancing growth in tourism through advocacy efforts, skills and knowledge development and networking opportunities.

-30- Media Contact:

Leslie Rossiter

Watch this powerful, educational video about the Shoal Pt. proposal to frack into the sea bed, under the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

The NL- Bay St. George Fracking Awareness invites all to: Pros and Cons of Fracking Public Meeting, April 7, 2013     2:00 – 4:30

Maria Regina Parish Hall in Port Au Port East

Also, an urgent notice from Save Gros Morne regarding proposed drilling and fracking in Lark Harbour, Sally’s Cove (an enclave in Gros Morne National Park) and potentially most of Newfoundland’s West Coast. Your comments about the Western NL Drilling Program 2013-2019 will only be accepted by the C-NLOPB until MARCH 25th.

Go to this link to see critically important documents which describe the proposed project and provide terms of reference for the environmental assessment to be done.

Angela Carter was born in Newfoundland and is part of research project studying environmental assessment processes of oil and gas exploration. Read her op-ed below, and listen to her interview on Voice of Bonne Bay community radio, out of Gros Morne, Newfoundland.

Oil Boom or Bust for the Gulf of St. Lawrence? Public Meetings In Progress October 1, 2012

Op-Ed by Angela Carter

Over the next weeks, the global debate around oil and gas development is coming to the doorstep of communities in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Due to unprecedented public concerns expressed about drilling at the Old Harry site (just 70 kilometers off the west coast of Newfoundland), the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board is holding public meetings on the whether major oil and gas development is appropriate in the Western Gulf given the environmental risks.

Public meetings were scheduled on very short notice. They are already in progress in western Newfoundland and will soon continue to Québec, NB, PEI, and NS. The schedules are here

The meetings represent the only opportunity during this process for local people to have any input, voice concerns, and ask questions in person.

The public consultation provides an opportunity to ask a tough question: are we on the right track given the global climate change implications of oil? As world-renowned economists Joseph Stiglitz and Jeffrey Sachs have argued, fossil-fuel based societies are also economic fossils. Truly innovative, forward-looking communities, they claim, are focused on the new energy economy and promoting sustainable renewable energy while dramatically decreasing consumption.  These places have a chance for long-term economic stability and healthy communities. The
oil-dependent will be left behind.

An equally tough question is whether or not oil and gas development in the western portion of the Gulf poses serious risks to the environment, health, and long-term economic viability of local communities. DFO has pegged the value of the commercial fisheries in the Gulf of St. Lawrence at $1.5 billion a year.  Yet oil spills and blowouts in other places have shut down fisheries and ruined product reputation for years.

Moreover, oil development is planned along the coast of Gros Morne National Park, our prized UNESCO World Heritage Site. A recent Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society report noted that the tourism sector generates the most revenue in the region, $35 million a year, and employs 1,300 people. Visitors to western Newfoundland come to experience natural beauty, not industrial oil sites. As communities in the Gulf of Mexico learned after the blowout, spills decimate tourism.

More worrisome still are current regulations limiting liability to $30 million dollars. Yet the cost of the Gulf of Mexico spill has run over tens of billions.  Further, there are plenty of examples of oil companies fighting to avoid paying compensation to communities. Legal battles played out over decades after the Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska.

Oil companies and public officials commonly argue that everyone benefits from oil and gas—from construction workers to restaurant servers. But global, historical evidence shows that communities where oil is extracted are often burdened with long-term economic, health, and environmental costs, as well as a decline in quality of life.  The communities at the point of extraction seldom experience the majority of the benefits. Most wealth goes to foreign companies or central governments that often don’t use the money wisely or fairly.

These are some of the potential problems posed by offshore oil development in the western Gulf. Citizens might also ask a few more tough questions.

Does the Board have complete baseline data on all key Gulf species and ecosystems? Does the Board have a complete scientific understanding of the impacts of seismic exploration? Has this research been done by independent scientists, researchers who were not paid by industry?

Will the Board follow the example of provinces like Québec, states like Vermont, and countries like France, to ban hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”), given the significant negative human health, environmental, and economic impacts of this industry?

Will the Board halt nomination, leasing, exploration, and development activity until this Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) is complete?  As noted in the Scoping Document, the point of the SEA is to ensure “the incorporation of environmental considerations at the earliest stages of program planning.” Continuing with oil development activity while the SEA is in progress runs counter to the spirit of the assessment.

Local people have one small window to voice their concerns about the future of the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The debate is too important and the stakes are too high to stay at home.

Angela V. Carter, PhD
Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, University of Waterloo

FFAW objects to seismic work in shrimp grounds June 08, 2012

The Telegram

Food Fish and Allied Workers (FFAW) union president Earle McCurdy
Credit: The Telegram

The Food Fish and Allied Workers (FFAW) union president Earle McCurdy wants seismic prospecting company MIK’s prospecting permit revoked for interfering with the fishery.

Seismic prospectors must provide their travel schedule beforehand, and must avoid interfering with commercial fishing operations, according to Canada Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (CNLOPB) regulations.

McCurdy states the company conducted seismic surveys on fishing grounds in violation of the schedule they were supposed to follow.

“We’ve had enough of it,” McCurdy said. “This is the second year in a row that seismic companies have interfered with our fishery.”.

FFAW has received complaints from shrimp boat captains that catch rates have dropped following seismic activity in the area.

Last year, FFAW received the same complaints.

While fishermen are stating the seismic work is affecting catch rates, a study by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans found seismic activity didn’t impact crab or whale populations. (

McCurdy has requested a meeting with the CNLOPB, MIK, provincial department of fisheries and other groups to discuss the matter.

The CNLOPB issued a statement saying it is following up in response to a report of possible seismic survey interference with fishing activity.The CNLOPB will attend a meeting of stakeholders next week as part of this follow-up.