Mary Gorman of the Save Our Seas and Shores Coalition (SOSS), speaks passionately for protecting the Gulf of St. Lawrence at Pa’qtnkek Water Ceremony with Ethan Hawke, October 26, 2015.
(OTTAWA) January 22, 2016 – Elizabeth May is standing alongside local community leaders to denounce the decision of provincial and federal regulators to give Corridor Resources Inc. a free pass for the third time at the Old Harry site, a proposed deep water oil well in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence.
“This is a shocking decision,” stated the Green Party Leader. “Putting thousands of livelihoods and our environment at risk by continuing to explore for oil and natural gas in this critical ecosystem is unacceptable. To compound the problem by not even requiring them to pay their fee, that is really outrageous.”
Community groups have long been calling for a full moratorium on oil and gas exploration in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Corridor Resources Inc. had until Friday, January 22 to pay a $1-million deposit to extend their licence, but provincial and federal regulators agreed to waive that fee earlier this week – the third time this has happened. The local fishing industry is worth in excess of $1.5 billion, and tourism along the Gulf directly employs tens of thousands of people across multiple provinces.
“This is a free pass to the oil and gas industry, and a slap in the face to fishermen, Aboriginal communities, and the local tourism industry, which all rely on the health of the Gulf of St. Lawrence,” concluded May. “This licence should never have been extended, much less for free.”
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For additional information or to arrange an interview, contact:
Debra Eindiguer Debra.firstname.lastname@example.org
t: (613) 240-8921
Green Party of Canada | Parti vert du Canada
812-116 rue Albert Street Ottawa, ON K1P 5G3
The Canadian Press
Jan 15, 2016 2:05 pm EST
ST. JOHN’S, N.L. – Environmental activists who want a drilling moratorium in the Gulf of St. Lawrence weren’t impressed Friday as regulators extended an oil exploration licence for the Old Harry site by another year.
Corridor Resources Inc. (TSX-CDH) of Halifax had until Friday to offer a $1 million deposit to extend the licence until next January.
The Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board announced the province and Ottawa agreed to waive the fee. Federal and provincial Natural Resources ministers ratified the move “in consideration of regulatory factors that have resulted in … delays in drilling a validation well in the final year of (Corridor’s) nine-year licence term,” the board said in a news release.
Spokesman Sean Kelly said no one was available for further comment.
Corridor Resources President and CEO Steve Moran referred all questions to the offshore petroleum board.
“It’s awful,” said Sylvain Archambault of the St. Lawrence Coalition, one of several environmental and indigenous groups across Canada that have called for a drilling moratorium in the Gulf.
“This is the third time they’ve obtained such a free pass.”
In its news release, the offshore board said it will soon announce plans for consultations with aboriginal groups and the public on related environmental assessments. Such regulatory requirements must be complete before any drilling goes ahead, Kelly confirmed in an email.
The federal government has estimated the Gulf and surrounding areas potentially hold 39 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and 1.5 billion barrels of oil.
Indigenous groups and environmental activists have urged a moratorium in the Gulf pending a scientific review of risks. They also want to see collective management strategies involving the five adjacent provinces — Quebec, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, PEI and Newfoundland and Labrador.
“Drilling would be close to the shore of any province,” Archambault said Friday in an interview. The Old Harry site is about 80 kilometres west of Newfoundland. One theory is that it was named for a community on the nearby Magdalen Islands.
“Scientific spill scenarios clearly show that the west coast of Newfoundland would be impacted as well as Cape Breton and the Magdalen Islands,” Archambault said.
“In the Gulf there are fisheries worth over $1.5 billion. There’s tourism, communities living all around the Gulf. We really don’t want the same scenario that happened in the Gulf of Mexico to repeat itself here.”
The Deepwater Horizon explosion April 20, 2010 in the Gulf of Mexico killed 11 rig workers. An estimated 3.19 million barrels of oil spewed into the water before engineers could cap the blown-out well 87 days later.
“And the Old Harry drilling site would be smack in the middle of the Laurentian Channel which is the highway used by all the migrating species — whales, salmon, cod,” Archambault said. “Anything happening there would be disastrous.”
Source: 680 News
First Nations from Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Quebec holding event on Monday By Elizabeth McMillan, CBC News Posted: Oct 23, 2015
(Leonard Adam/Getty Images)
Actor Ethan Hawke will be lending some of his star power to First Nations groups in eastern Canada that oppose oil and gas exploration in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
The leadership of the Paqtnkek, Listuguj, Gesgapegiag and Gespeg First Nations will be holding a joint press conference and water ceremony Monday by the coast at 577 Summerside Road in Afton, which is in Antigonish County, Nova Scotia.
Hawke will be a special guest and is scheduled to answer questions following a press conference. The four-time Oscar nominee who is known for films such as Training Day, Dead Poets Society and Boyhood has property in the area.
Troy Jerome, executive director of the Mi’gmawei Mawiomi Secretariat, says First Nations groups and organizations like the Save Our Seas and Shores Coalition have been working to raise awareness for years and a big name like Hawke’s can bring new attention to their concerns.
Potential oil not going anywhere
The group is calling for a 12-year exploration moratorium, which Jerome says is needed so the government can conduct a comprehensive review.
“The public should be saying the same thing the Mi’kmaq, the aboriginal people, are saying. Show us a study before you think about drilling in there,” he said.
“It’s unproven, but even if there’s oil there, it’s not disappearing.”
Jerome says people who live in the region — which includes the four Atlantic provinces and Quebec — haven’t been adequately consulted, but also haven’t been that engaged.
He hopes Hawke’s profile will encourage the public to push for more information about how drilling and any potential blowouts could affect the area.
“If there’s an oil spill it’s going to go on the shores of Newfoundland, by some spill scenarios, up all the way up the St. Lawrence River. No one really knows,” he said.
Coming on the heels of the recent federal election, Jerome hopes the event sends a message to industry and the new federal government.
“By having his (Ethan Hawke’s) presence, it raises a level of exposure to another level,” he said. “The timing turned out to be very good.”
‘Chronically’ under radar
Mary Gorman of the Save our Seas and Shore Coalition says tens of thousands of jobs in the fishing and tourism industries could be impacted by offshore drilling.
“We have been fighting this battle before Keystone, before Northern Gateway, before Energy East. All of these battles have taken precedence over our battle,” she said.
“There will be oil on the coast of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland if our politicians are foolish enough to let this proceed. And yet we chronically fall under the radar. And that’s why Ethan is helping us.”
Hawke has voiced concerns about the environmental risks of offshore drilling before.
In 2011, he released a statement with the David Suzuki Foundation and the Save Our Seas and Shores Coalition in a campaign calling for the moratorium on offshore oil and gas drilling in the gulf.
The site of Monday’s ceremony is close to where Donald Marshall Jr. was arrested for fishing eels out of season, which led to a landmark 1999 Supreme Court of Canada ruling that guaranteed aboriginal treaty rights to fish and hunt.
Paqtnkek councilllor Darlene Prosper says Monday’s events will begin with a water ceremony scheduled for 12:30 p.m.
Source: CBC News
TOM AYERS Cape Breton Bureau
Published October 22, 2015 – 11:28am
Oscar-nominated actor, writer and director Ethan Hawke is expected to attend a Mi’kmaq water ceremony on Monday at Paq’tnkek First Nation to support an aboriginal call for a moratorium on oil and gas exploration in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
“Ethan Hawke has some land in that area down there,” said Troy Jerome, executive director of the Mi’gmawei Mawiomi Secretariat.
“That’s why we were able to convince him to come out and do something with us, because he knows the area right there and he knows about the issue with the Gulf.”
Paq’tnkek Chief Paul (PJ) Prosper will host the secretariat — a group representing three First Nation communities along the Gaspe peninsula — along with Nova Scotia supporters and Innu and Maliseet from around the Gulf, at the ceremony at 1 p.m. on Summerside Road in Afton, Antigonish County.
That is near the site where the late Donald Marshall Jr. was arrested for eel fishing, an affair that ended with a Supreme Court decision in his name that confirmed the aboriginal right to fish.
This week, Shell Canada received approval to begin exploratory drilling off the southwest shore of Nova Scotia, while Corridor Resources, a Halifax junior exploration company, still has an interest in oil and gas exploration in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
Aboriginals aren’t opposed to all petroleum exploration and drilling, said Jerome, but the waters of the Gulf need to be protected to ensure the aboriginal right to fish is not harmed.
Also, the entire region’s economy depends on fishing and tourism, which would be threatened by oil and gas development, he said.
“The Gulf is a very unique ecosystem, as opposed to other bodies of water, so I think there’s a hook there to say that (exploration) could happen in other areas, but in the Gulf, if there is some kind of accident out there, it’s going to devastate the whole economy, right from Halifax all the way to Gaspe and Newfoundland.”
The secretariat is backing a call made last year by Mi’kmaq chiefs and others for a 12-year moratorium on exploration in the Gulf and asking government regulators to commission an independent study of the entire Gulf region, instead of requiring companies to conduct limited studies within a smaller radius from potential exploration sites.
It is also hoping to raise awareness of the issues in the Gulf, where the counterclockwise current could carry pollutants around the shores of the four Atlantic provinces and Quebec, said Jerome, and sea ice in winter could make any cleanup difficult.
And at least three provincial regulatory bodies cover oil and gas development in the Gulf.
“We see this whole Gulf exploration happening under a shroud,” said Jerome. “They’re doing it in public, but the public doesn’t know that they could have a say about what’s happening.
“No one’s drilling right now, and we’re trying to make sure that no drilling occurs. The Mi’kmaq proposed a 12-year moratorium and people came back and said, ‘Why a 12-year moratorium?’
“For us, it’s quite clear that the Gulf is one large ecosystem, and you cannot study it by going to the Newfoundland portion and studying that, going to Quebec and studying that portion, and studying the Nova Scotia portion.”
Source: Chronicle Herald
Press Release, July 21/2015
In a powerful show of unity, First Nation communities and fishing industry representatives call on the Federal Ministers of Natural Resources, Environment, and Fisheries to suspend petroleum development in the Gulf of St. Lawrence until it can determine that these activities would pose no risk to commercial fisheries.
The Gulf’s Aboriginal Communities, Harvester, and Processor Associations, call on the federal government to hear public concerns and evaluate the risks of drilling in a semi- enclosed body of water that supports hundreds of coastal communities in 5 provinces.
“The government is ignoring that the Gulf of St. Lawrence is partially landlocked and one of the most sensitive and productive marine breeding regions in Canada with over 2,200 marine species that spawn, nurse and migrate year around. Due to the sensitive nature of the St. Lawrence it unlikely that a billion dollar fishing industry could withstand oil and gas development,” says Marilyn Clark, executive director of the Nova Scotia Fish Packers Association. Although Strategic Environmental assessment (SEA) have been undertaken by both Newfoundland and Quebec, these inadequate assessments failed to look at the Gulf as a whole, she said.
“We know there is very little capacity to respond to an oil spill due to high winds and counter clockwise currents that only empty into the Atlantic once a year, leaving NS, NB, PEI, QC and NL coastlines vulnerable to contamination. Despite this, the environmental assessment process has been downgraded to allow companies to drill exploratory wells without consulting people depending on these waters for their livelihoods,” states fisherman Leonard Leblanc of Cheticamp, Nova Scotia.
Spill simulations undertaken by the Rimouski Institute of Ocean Science demonstrate that fish and plankton critical to the Gulf’s food chain would have to migrate through oil at both the Laurentian Channel and Straight of Belle Isle, which are entry and exit regions critical to the Gulf’s entire eco-system.
Even Corridor Resources, who wants to drill at Old Harry, acknowledge in their EA report that: “There are environmental and technological constraints to response and cleanup. High sea states and visibility are examples of typical environmental constraints, while technological constraints include pumping capacity of oil recovery devices and effectiveness of chemical dispersants.” Furthermore, several months of ice coverage in the winter escalate these important limitations.
Nearly two years ago, First Nations formed the Innu, Maliseet and Mi’gmaq Alliance and signed an agreement to protect the Gulf from Oil and Gas Development. They have recently renewed this commitment and reiterated their request for a 12 year Moratorium.
To date, they have yet to be consulted on the Old Harry project.
“Quebec’s Environment Assessment (SEA) detailed many gaps in knowledge and understanding of the Gulf of St Lawrence. We have existing Aboriginal rights and constitutionally protected Treaty Rights as recognized by the Supreme Court of Canada. We will do all that is necessary to protect our way of life and prevent any exploratory plan to be carried out in the Gulf,” explains Troy Jerome, Executive Director of the Mi’gmawei Mawiomi Secretariat.
In the event of a spill, Canadian law demands a company to have a measly 1 billion dollars of compensation monies. This is deeply inadequate when you consider that Gulf fisheries are worth more than one billion each year. Investments in boats, licenses, and fish plants dependent on renewable resources for their operations are worth far more than these proposed damages. The BP Macondo disaster cost BP over $40 billion dollars so far and could cost the company over $60billion due to ongoing litigation.
“How do you quantify damages to living species that have been around for thousands of years if you are not even taking into account ecological value?” asks Clark. “In short, the Gulf of St. Lawrence fishing industry will accept no less than a full, independent expert review panel, acting in the 5 provinces, as is warranted by public concerns in section 38 (2) b of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act”, she concludes.
For further information contact:
Marilyn Clark 902.774.0006 (French/English)
Director Nova Scotia Fish Packers Association
Troy Jerome 506.759.2000 (French/English) Executive Director
Nutewistoq, Mi’gmawei, Mawiomi Secretariat
Leonard LeBlanc 902-302-0794 (French/English)
Gulf Nova Scotia Fishermen’s Coalition
Ian MacPherson 902-566-4050 (English)
PEI Fishermen’s Association
Jean-Pierre Couillard 418-269-7701 (French)
Association des Capitaines Propriétaire de la Gaspésie
July 21, 2015
by Danielle Rochette
APTN National News
Eighteen organizations spread out over four provinces are banding together and calling on the federal government to stop any kind of oil exploration work in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
The group sent a letter Tuesday to Natural Resources Minister Greg Rickford, Fisheries Minister Gail Shea and Minister of Environment Leona Aglukkaq. [See press release here]
“As fisheries representatives active in all parts of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, we are writing to inform you that we will oppose any petroleum development in the Gulf of St. Lawrence without prior consultation and a thorough understanding of the impacts to our seafood industry,” the letter states.
It’s not clear who penned the letter.
The Nutewistoq M’igmawei Mawiomi Secretariat is one of the organizations that is part of the coalition.
The group pointed out that the process that will allow companies to explore for oil, will also allow them to circumvent the environmental or consultation process.
“Given that exploratory drilling has been downgraded to a simple ‘screening exercise,’ which does not necessitate consultation with existing users, we demand that the Old Harry prospect be put to a full review panel as is warranted by public concern under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act” the letter states.
A Mi’kmaq group out of Quebec is already lobbying the Quebec government to put in place a 12-year moratorium on exploration work in the Gulf. [See APTN story here: Nations band together to fight future oil exploration in Gulf of Saint Lawrence]
There is also a coalition made up of environmental groups and First Nation communities fighting any kind of oil work. They’re concerned that thousands of fisheries and tourism jobs will be at stake if there is a spill in the Gulf.
“We would also like to remind the federal government that the Gulf of St. Lawrence is a common body of water and that spills occurring in one area cannot be contained by provincial delineations,” they say in the letter.
The Gulf waters touch five provinces, Quebec, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador.
Source: Groups band together to fight oil exploration on Gulf of St. Lawrence – APTN National news
MONTREAL — Quebec must impose a 12-year moratorium on oil and gas exploration in the Gulf of St. Lawrence to give time for a comprehensive assessment on possible risks to the ecosystem, the chiefs of three native groups said Wednesday.
The waters of the St. Lawrence are vital to the livelihoods of the Innu, Mi’kmaq and Maliseet nations and should be protected, they told a news conference in Montreal as the Assembly of First Nations continued its annual meeting.
They also asked federal party leaders to tell voters ahead of this fall’s election where they stand on the protection of the Gulf from development.
Mi’kmaq Chief Scott Martin said he feared an environmental catastrophe in the St. Lawrence similar to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico that devastated parts of the southern U.S. coastline.
Martin added there are currently “numerous knowledge gaps” within oil-industry reports on risks associated with drilling along the waterway.
“The gulf is a highly productive body of water and diversity is very rich,” he told reporters. “No one can tell us what effect a blowout like a Deepwater Horizon can have on the food chain.”
Martin said he wants an “integrated assessment” of all the risks involved with resource exploitation in the area before Quebec grants exploration or drilling permits.
The chiefs said they decided the moratorium should last 12 years after calculating the time they thought it would take to conduct studies, write reports and consult the public.
Resource exploitation along the St. Lawrence River cannot be carried out without their consent, the chiefs said, adding the Supreme Court of Canada ruled native people must be consulted and accommodated before their territory can be used for commercial development.
Some chiefs were more hard line than others.
Innu Chief Jean-Charles Pietacho said his people won’t be silenced with petrodollars.
“Never will I accept royalties that come from (the oil and gas sector),” he said.
Anne Archambault, grand chief of the Viger Maliseet First Nation, was more nuanced in her comments, saying she needed to consult her people before deciding on royalties.
She said her people’s ancestral rights to the Atlantic salmon “take precedence over oil,” adding 95 per cent of her community’s revenue comes from the salmon industry.
Native groups demand protection of Gulf from oil and gas development The Telegram
Chiefs from the Innu, Maliseet and Mi’gmaq Nations are demanding that federal party leaders tell voters whether they will protect the Gulf of St. Lawrence’s unique and vital ecosystem.
With Québec proposing to open the Gulf of St. Lawrence to oil and gas exploration, Chief Jean-Charles Piétacho of the Innu of Ekuanitshit said in a news release, “This is an issue that affects the livelihoods of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people in five provinces and it is the federal government’s responsibility to protect them.”
The release notes that last month, Québec announced it would lift a moratorium on oil and gas exploration in the Gulf and begin granting permits once legislation is in place. Newfoundland has already granted an exploration permit at the Old Harry Prospect, northeast of the Magdelen Islands, but drilling has not yet been allowed.
It says both Québec and Newfoundland’s powers are from the federal government and they will need federal government approval for major decisions. Old Harry is at the boundary used by Canada to assign each province its regulatory authority.
“The Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico five years ago was an exploration well, like what the provincial governments want to allow,” said Chief Scott Martin of the Mi’gmaq of Listuguj. “We want federal party leaders to tell the people of New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Québec whether they are willing to risk that kind of catastrophe in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.”
A strategic environmental assessment by Québec concluded that a catastrophe on the scale of Deepwater Horizon is “plausible” if exploration goes ahead. The native groups stress in their news release that results would be devastating for a commercial fishery around the Gulf worth $1.5 billion annually and a tourism industry that generates another $800 million per year.
The Innu, Maliseet and Mi’gmaq communities of Québec formed an alliance in 2013 for the protection of the Gulf of St. Lawrence. At the Assembly of First Nations meeting in Halifax in 2014, Maliseet and Mi’gmaq chiefs from Nova Scotia and New Brunswick joined them in calling for a moratorium.
“The salmon has sustained our peoples since time immemorial and it migrates through the Gulf before it returns to our rivers to spawn,” said Grand Chief Anne Archambault of the Viger Maliseet First Nation. “We have rights protected under the Constitution to harvest what the Gulf gives to us and those rights take precedence over oil and gas.”
Ask New Brunswick court to quash construction permit issued to Chaleur Terminals Inc., cite failure to consult CBC News
Jul 07, 2015
Mi’gmaq communities in the Gaspé region have take legal action against the New Brunswick government and Chaleur Terminals Inc., in a bid to halt construction of an oil terminal in Belledune, N.B.
Listuguj Mi’gmaq First Nation and the Mi’gmawei Mawiomi Secretariat filed a notice of application with the Court of Queen’s Bench in Campbellton, N.B., on Monday.
They are seeking to quash the approval to construct permit, environmental approval permit and site approval issued to Chaleur Terminals by the New Brunswick Department of Environment earlier this year.
The band and not-for-profit corporation allege the provincial government has breached its “ongoing duty to consult and to seek to reach a reasonable accommodation with the applicants,” according to the court documents.
They want the court to issue an order prohibiting the government from issuing any further permits, approvals or authorizations to Chaleur Terminals “until such time as the province of New Brunswick has fulfilled its obligations to the applicants.”
None of the allegations have been proven in court.
The New Brunswick government and Chaleur Terminals have not yet filed responses with the court.
Sacred duty to protect salmon
Troy Jerome, executive director of the Mi’gmawei Mawiomi Secretariat, contends the proposed project is in violation of aboriginal title, rights and treaties.
He says his people have a sacred duty to protect the salmon in the Matapedia and Restigouche rivers, along which the oil would be carried in rail cars.
”Our people here fish salmon. If you look out on the river today, they’re out there fishing salmon. It’s our way of life. We’ve been doing that for thousands of years and we went and [did] what we had to do to defend our way of life in terms of protecting the salmon,” he said.
‘If there’s even one rail tank that spills into that river, it’s a lot more important to us than those 40 jobs.’- Troy Jerome, Mi’gmawei Mawiomi Secretariat
“We are one with the salmon. So the salmon [are] looking to us to protect them, and they provide us nourishment, so we have that kind of relationship, that direct relationship. And Chaleur Terminals right now, they’re talking about a couple of jobs, even up to 40 jobs — if there’s even one rail tank that spills into that river, it’s a lot more important to us than those 40 jobs.”
220 rail cars of Alberta oil daily
Chaleur Terminals, a subsidiary of Alberta-based Secure Energy Services, purchased 250 acres from the Port of Belledune last year. It plans to transport Alberta crude oil to Belledune by rail, for marine export abroad.
Construction is expected to start at the end of 2015 or 2016 and take about 18 months. Once complete, the project would see about 220 rail cars carrying oil to Belledune every day.
Jerome says people in the Gaspé area don’t have much faith in CN Railway after upgrades earlier this year caused irreversible damage to the local salmon population, according to anglers.
And he says efforts to discuss the project with the provincial and federal governments have so far not resulted in proper engagement.
In April, CN Railway dumped 6,000 tonnes of rocks on the side of its tracks to prevent erosion — and right into an important salmon breeding ground in the Matapedia River, causing irreversible damage, according to Quebec’s Atlantic Salmon Federation.
Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) officials have said the rail company didn’t respect its maintenance work permit when it dumped the rocks during an important time in the Atlantic salmon breeding cycle.
A total of 22 municipalities in Quebec have voiced opposition to Chaleur Terminals’ project in Belledune.
Local politicians in New Brunswick, however, have said they welcome the estimated 200 jobs it will create during construction and 40 permanent full-time jobs once it’s in operation.