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NEWS: Council opposition helps prompt call for special panel on Gulf of St. Lawrence drilling

Leo Broderick

Atlantic regional organizer Angela Giles has alerted us that the Globe and Mail is reporting, “Newfoundland’s offshore regulator has asked the federal government to strike a special panel on oil exploration in the Gulf of St. Lawrence after a drilling proposal at the controversial Old Harry site drew an unprecedented backlash. In a letter to Environment Minister Peter Kent, the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board said the evidence so far suggests the project by Halifax-based Corridor Resources Inc. is unlikely to cause significant environmental harm. But in the wake of BP PLC’s disastrous blowout in the Gulf of Mexico, Canadians are demanding a high level of environmental screening for contentious project, CNLOPB chair Max Ruelokke said in a release Monday. …The (Newfoundland) board said it had received more public commentary on the environmental aspects of Old Harry development than on any other a proposed exploration or production project in its 26-year history.”

On March 28, 2011, Council of Canadians vice-chairperson Leo Broderick wrote the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board expressing our concern that Corridor Resources could be granted a permit to drill a deep water exploration well in the Laurentian Trench, north of the Magdalene Islands, and that only a screening level of environmental assessment is being planned. Broderick wrote, “The Council of Canadians is requesting that you stop this project. We ask that you declare a moratorium on oil drilling inside the Gulf. And we also ask that you initiate a strategic environmental assessment with a full panel review and a regional public consultation process (i.e. public consultation meetings in all affected provinces).” More on Leo Broderick’s letter can be read at http://canadians.org/campaignblog/?p=7205.

Additionally, on November 17, 2010, the Council of Canadians joined the call from Save Our Seas and Shores, Attention Fragile (Magdalen Islands), Sierra Club Atlantic, and the Ecology Action Centre, for a moratorium on oil and gas development in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. And on April 7, 2011, “Atlantic Council of Canadians chapter delegates, at a meeting the past weekend in Tatamagouche, united in concern with the proposed drilling in the ‘Old Harry’ area of the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The clear lack of public consultation and information void around the proposed drilling has created more questions than answers.”

The Globe and Mail notes that, “Quebec Natural Resources Minister Nathalie Normandeau has said the Old Harry field could contain as much as 2-billion barrels of oil and 5-trillion cubic feet of natural gas, though whether there is any recoverable oil or gas won’t be known until exploration wells are drilled. Corridor Resources has completed seismic work in the area, and filed a proposal with the board in February to drill an exploration well between mid-2012 and early 2014.”