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BP drilling offshore Nova Scotia threatens endangered whales

The Council of Canadians opposes the Trudeau government’s approval of the controversial transnational corporation BP drilling seven oil and gas exploration wells 300 kilometres off the coast of Nova Scotia beginning next month.

Council of Canadians climate justice campaigner Andrea Harden-Donahue has stated, “New fossil fuel projects are not consistent with our commitment to the Paris climate commitment and the gravity of the climate crisis. For the federal government to call itself a climate leader and then pave the way for dangerous offshore drilling by BP, responsible for the worst offshore drilling disaster in the U.S., is unacceptable.”

Now, The Globe and Mail reports, “Scientists are questioning the federal government’s decision to allow more ship traffic and underwater noise from an offshore-drilling project, warning it could inflict more harm and contribute to the extinction of the critically endangered North Atlantic right whale.”

Federal environment minister Catherine McKenna approved the BP project on February 1 – stating it’s not likely to cause any significant environmental damage – even after a Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency report said offshore activities increases the risk of death and to habitat quality for six at-risk whale species.

The Globe and Mail notes, “Dr. Lindy Weilgart said right whales don’t typically congregate in the location where the drilling is set to take place, but the distribution of right whales may be changing. Last summer, one-quarter of the world’s population was recorded in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, although in previous years, their main habitat was in the Bay of Fundy. To get to the gulf, the whales would have to migrate past the site of the drilling project, between 230 and 370 kilometres southeast of Halifax. Platform supply vessels would make the round trip between Halifax and the drilling base up to three times a week.”

Next steps

That article highlights, “Before any drilling can take place, BP must get authorization from the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board, which regulates the offshore oil and gas industry. CNSOPB spokeswoman Stacy O’Rourke said the board is currently reviewing BP’s proposal to start drilling one well to ensure regulatory compliance. She said the timing of a decision is unknown as it depends on what’s found in the review. …Vance Chow, a spokesman for Fisheries and Oceans Canada, said the Fisheries Minister, Dominic LeBlanc, has yet to determine whether the project will require a Fisheries Act authorization or Species at Risk Act permit. The decisions are expected in a few weeks.”

The Council of Canadians is now organizing a three-community speaking tour in opposition to the BP offshore drilling project that will visit Halifax (March 20), Shelburne (March 21) and Lunenburg (March 22).

For more information on that tour, please click here. For tour speaker Antonia Juhasz’s recent op-ed in the Halifax Chronicle-Herald, click here. For our blogs and media releases in opposition to BP drilling offshore Nova Scotia, click here.

To sign our petition, please click here.