Groups call for moratorium on petrol exploration in Gulf

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.

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