Planned Cuts to Environment Assessment Agency Could Leave Gulf Open to Oil and Gas

Media Release

July 22, 2011

Planned Cuts to Environment Assessment Agency Could Leave Gulf Open to Oil and Gas

New Glasgow, NS – Plans to slash the budget of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency budget to a paltry $17 million alarmed a coalition of community, fisheries, and Aboriginal groups engaged in protecting the Gulf of St. Lawrence from oil and gas.

“These cuts are not only bad news for environmental protection in this country but also reflect an erosion of our democratic rights in Canada,” says Mary Gorman of Save Our Seas and Shores Coalition.

“The Newfoundland offshore petroleum board has called for a federal assessment of the impacts of oil and gas on the Gulf,” says Gretchen Fitzgerald, Director of the Sierra Club Canada – Atlantic Canada Chapter, “We are alarmed these cuts indicate the Prime Minister has not taken the Board’s recommendation seriously. Meanwhile, the federal government continues to fork over billions of dollars in tax breaks to oil.”

The Wells Commission, which examined the causes of the deaths of 17 workers in the 2009 helicopter crash in Newfoundland’s offshore, called for better environmental regulation of the offshore.  Canada’s Senate Committee on Energy, Natural Resources and Environment have also stated that offshore boards like the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (C-NLOPB), may be in a conflict of interest when it comes to safety and the environment, and that their role should be reviewed.

“Canadians created laws and processes like the environmental assessment act to evaluate risk and protect special and valuable ecosystems like the Gulf of St. Lawrence,” say Mary Gorman, head of the Save our Seas and Shores Coalition, “How can Canada possibly meet its moral obligations to prevent environmental destruction when environmental protection agencies are being gutted?”

The Coalition is calling on Minister Kent to engage all five provinces and aboriginal leaders in a joint review panel of impacts of oil and gas in the Gulf.