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NEWS: Harper-Charest agree to oil exploration in the St. Lawrence

The Gulf of St. Lawrence is the world’s largest estuary and the outlet for the Great Lakes via the St. Lawrence River into the Atlantic Ocean. Increasingly, concerned groups have been saying that oil and gas exploration and drilling should not take place in the Gulf. Last November, the Council of Canadians joined in that call.

This morning, the Globe and Mail reports that the Harper government and the Charest government have signed “a deal that opens the door to oil exploration in the St. Lawrence and fuels hopes for economic development in poor parts of the province. The agreement to be unveiled on Thursday in Gatineau, Que., will lead to exploration for billions of barrels of oil and natural gas in the Old Harry field in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, which straddles Quebec’s boundary with Newfoundland. …Quebec Minister of Natural Resources Nathalie Normandeau said last fall that the Old Harry site represented an estimated two billion barrels of oil and perhaps as much as five trillion cubic feet of natural gas.”

It is now believed that Quebec will lift its moratorium on exploration in its Gulf waters by late 2012.

While the article reports that, “Conservative officials are predicting the Old Harry deal will be well received in Quebec, especially in eastern areas that suffer chronic unemployment”, there is no reference to its environmental consequences. David Suzuki with Faisal Moola have written, “Imagine a similar incident (to the Deepwater Horizon explosion in the Gulf of Mexico) in an inland sea one-sixth the size of the Gulf of Mexico. This is a very real fear for people in the five provinces along the Gulf of St. Lawrence — Quebec, Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia — as well as the French territory of St Pierre and Miquelon. …Computer simulations by the David Suzuki Foundation’s Quebec office show that a spill of 10,000 barrels of oil a day over 10 days in different seasons could have a devastating impact on all five provinces along the Gulf of St. Lawrence, affecting tourism, fisheries, and marine life.”

The Globe and Mail article is at http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/tories-quebec-ink-oil-exploration-deal/article1954451/. A previous campaign blog on this situation is at http://canadians.org/campaignblog/?p=5369.