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BP Spill prompting sober second thoughts in Canada

With recent news confirming that the spill off the Gulf of Mexico is actually gushing twice as much oil in the ocean than previously estimated, it is no surprise that offshore exploration and drilling is coming under increasing scrutiny in Canada.

As reported in a cbc article, Newfoundland and Labrador NDP Leader Lorraine Michael recently asked whether the “government would be willing to put a halt to the drilling in the Orphan Basin until an assessment could be made of the relevancy of any identified technical issues to the Lona-O55 drilling program.”

In Nova Scotia, citing the need for more research assessing the impacts of potential oil and gas industries on fishing, the provincial and federal governments announced (May 13) a moratorium on oil and gas exploration on Georges Bank until Dec. 31, 2015 (as reported here).

As reported by the cbc, Rick Doucet, New Brunswick’s Fisheries Minsiter has invited the federal Fisheries Minister Gail O’Shea and his Atlantic counterparts to a symposium to discuss ways to protect the region’s marine environment from possible oil spills. “The current ecological and financial disaster in the Gulf of Mexico demonstrates the potential vulnerability of the fish and seafood sector that co-exists with the oil and gas industries,” Doucet said in a statement.

The oil-friendly National Energy Board, previously ready to drop a safeguard requirement that companies in the Arctic have to drill relief wells in the same season as the primary well, is now promising to hold a public review of Arctic offshore drilling and safety requirements.

The House of Commons has passed an NDP motion to review “unconventional sources of oil and gas” — including the oilsands, deepwater oil-and-gas recovery and shale gas (see Winnipeg Free Press article).

We’re not in the clear yet.

There is no way to guarantee that a spill as, or more devastating than that in the Gulf of Mexico won’t happen without a moratorium on new oil and gas development in the Arctic and moratorium on offshore drilling in Canada.

This is why the Council of Canadians will be spending more time in the coming year building our campaign for a moratorium on new oil and gas development in the Arctic.

Not only is a moratorium needed to avoid the type of disaster unfolding in the Gulf of Mexico, climate justice requires a transition off of fossil fuels – ending new expansion is a logical first step.

It is perverse that the current rush to exploit fossil fuel resources in the Arctic (primarily offshore) is happening now because ice is melting as a result of the climate crisis – a crisis caused by Big Oil and our addiction to fossil fuels.

Read our 5 reasons to support a moratorium on new oil and gas development in the Arctic at our new webpage, and send an email to the Prime Minister, Opposition Leaders and relevant Ministers and Critics calling for a moratorium using our action alert.