Save Our Seas and Shores Coalition and Greenpeace Canada both oppose proposed changes which would scale back responsibilities of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency and give the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board (CNSOPB) the power to conduct federal environmental assessments of projects in the region.
According to iPolitics, Keith Stewart, climate and energy campaigner with Greenpeace Canada said the change is a sop to the energy industry.
Keith Stewart, climate & energy campaigner with Greenpeace Canada. Credit: https://twitter.com/climatekeith
“This is about gutting environmental reviews in order to fast-track oil projects, as the Petroleum Board doesn’t have the expertise or the mandate to do a proper environmental assessment,” he said in an email response. “If you’re renovating your house, it might seem faster and cheaper to have your accountant double up as the architect, but then don’t be surprised when the fancy new addition collapses.”
Mary Gorman, spokesperson for Save Our Seas and Shores Coalition, expressed similar outrage in an email to iPolitics.
Mary Gorman, co-founder and spokesperson, Save Our Seas and Shores Coalition. (Credit: https://twitter.com/gorman_mary)
“Entrenching powers for industry controlled offshore petroleum boards into Canada’s Environmental Assessment Act is not responsible conduct and will not lead to a responsible authority,” Gorman said. “Rather, it deepens the conflict of interest that the C-NSOPB is already in, as both a promoter of offshore development while simultaneously protecting the environment.”
Save Our Seas and Shores expressed opposition to this change in a July 22/2015 submission to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency.
According to iPolitics, the C-NSOPB will fill the role of the CEAA when necessary. As the government explains in its regulatory impact analysis statement, this is thanks to Bill C-22, which will allow the board to conduct these assessments. Then, C-NSOPB will perform the same functions as the National Energy Board (NEB), the market regulator for interprovincial and international pipelines and power lines, does for offshore projects everywhere except around Newfoundland and Labrador, where the CEAA will continue to conduct its assessments. The Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (CNLOPB) — that region’s equivalent of the CNSOPB — “is not yet in a position to assume this role,” the government says.
In the past, the C-NSOPB carried out these reviews under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, before its overhaul in 2012.
To read the entire iPolitics article, Environmental groups decry change in N.S. offshore assessment process written by Mackenzie Scrimshaw, go here.
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.
Harper and Quebec announce oil development plans for Gulf of St. Lawrence
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
October 14, 2014
K’JIPUKTUK (Halifax NS) – Save Our Seas and Shores Coalition is calling on the Canada Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (C-NLOPB) to stop issuing license extensions (free or otherwise) to Corridor Resources for EL-1105 at Old Harry in the Gulf of St Lawrence.
Following up on the announcement made by the Innu, Maliseet and Mi’gmaq Alliance in Halifax last July, wherein First Nations called for a 12-year moratorium on offshore oil and gas development in the Gulf of St Lawrence, representatives from SOSS-NS, NB, PEI, QC and NL are meeting in Halifax this week to announce their support for the Alliance’s demand.
“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. “In the enclosed attachment C-NLOPB acknowledges: ‘The Board has not yet explicitly requested input from the public or aboriginal communities’. It makes no sense for the C-NLOPB to issue another license extension to Corridor Resources, when First Nations have called for a 12-year moratorium – unless they plan to give Corridor a 12 year extension.” Jerome said.
The Coalition is responding to a statement made by Corridor Resources that they would be seeking additional time on their Old Harry license. While the company 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, one in November 2011 and the second in July 2013. These free extensions amount to special treatment given to this oil company by its regulator” said Bob Diamond from SOSS-NL. “It also begs a bigger question. If Corridor can’t afford to pay for license extensions, how will they ever afford to clean up an oil spill?” he said. “ BP has set aside at least 43 billion dollars on the Deepwater Horizon disaster. Compare this to the measly billion dollar no fault liability limit that has yet to be implemented into legislation here in Canada.” said Diamond.
Coalition members including coastal landowners and fishery and tourism reps speak in a united voice, calling on federal and provincial governments to honor and implement First Nations call for a 12 year moratorium.
“Four years after the BP Gulf of Mexico spill which saw approx two hundred million gallons of oil and nearly 2 million gallons of toxic oil dispersants sprayed into Gulf waters, only 25 percent of the spilled oil has been recovered.” said Ian Forgeron, a fisherman from SOSS–PEI “Oysters are down 93%, shrimp 40-60% and scientists believe the spill harmed more than 80,000 birds, 25,000 marine mammals and 6,000 sea turtles along with coral lobsters, crabs, clams, zooplankton and starfish”, he said. Forgeron, who is also a social worker said, “Gulf of Mexico residents’ rates of anxiety, depression, symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder and substance abuse have all increased in those communities impacted by the BP spill.”
“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,” he said.
“Gros Morne, Port au Port, Bay St George in NL, Cape Breton National Park, the Cabot Trail, Magdalen Islands and Cavendish, PEI are some of the national treasures at risk.” said Margo Sheppard from SOSS-NB. “Over the years, communities, businesses and governments have invested in making this 660 million dollar tourism industry in Atlantic Canada. 17,000 jobs in communities around the gulf depend on sustainable tourism. There is too much at risk here.” adds Sheppard. “Our tourism industries for all five provinces deserve greater protection and respect from elected officials than we are currently receiving,” she said.
“Since the oil industry already has unfettered access to 88% of east coast waters, enough is enough.” said Mary Gorman of SOSS-NS. “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. We stand with Innu, Maliseet and Mi’gmaq First Nations in calling for a 12 year moratorium on offshore oil and gas development in the Gulf of St Lawrence.”
– 30 –
For more information, please contact:
- Troy Jerome – Mi’gmawei Mawiomi Secretariat – 506.759.2000
- Bob Diamond – SOSS-NL 709.632-4269
- Ian Forgeron – SOSS-PEI 902.394.0044
- Ron Heighton – Gulf NS Fleet Planning Board 902.759.2444
- Margo Sheppard – SOSS-NB 506.476.9708
- Mary Gorman – SOSS-NS 902.926.2128
Attachment: Letter from CNLOPB to Chiefs Pietasho and Jeannotte, Ekuanitshit Innu Council, and the Mi’gmawei Mawiomi regarding consultation and assessment for Old Harry (EL-1105), July 25, 2014 (Link: 2014_07_25_Reponse_CNLOPB)
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.