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Will the G7 summit ‘healthy oceans’ session on June 9 discuss offshore oil and gas drilling?

The Council of Canadians is calling on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to stop BP oil and gas drilling off the coast of Nova Scotia.

Justin Trudeau was in La Malbaie yesterday to talk about the upcoming G7 summit and defend the $605 million price tag for the two-day gathering. The Canadian Press reports that Trudeau said the event can be the perfect forum for the global leadership that is required on issues such as the environment and healthy oceans.

The Canadian Press has previously reported, “The second day of the summit, June 9, will be devoted to a special session on oceans, a key theme for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. …Trudeau wants an in-depth discussion with an expanded group of world leaders [including the heads of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund] on the plight of the oceans… Trudeau’s oceans agenda is expected to focus on three areas: combating overfishing, reducing the dumping of harmful plastics and finding ways to help coastal states – including parts of the United States – cope with rising sea levels.”

There doesn’t appear to be a reference in this to the dangerous offshore oil and gas drilling supported by Trudeau, US president Donald Trump, British prime minister Theresa May and Italian prime minister Paolo Gentiloni.

In January of this year, the Associated Press reported, “The Trump administration moved to vastly expand offshore drilling from the Atlantic to the Arctic oceans with a plan that would open up federal waters off the California coast for the first time in more than three decades. The new five-year drilling plan also could open new areas of oil and gas exploration in areas off the East Coast from Georgia to Maine, where drilling has been blocked for decades. …The proposal comes less than a week after the Trump administration proposed to rewrite or kill rules on offshore oil and gas drilling imposed after the deadly 2010 rig explosion and oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.”

That article adds, “The rules targeted blowout preventers, massive valve-like devices designed to prevent spills from wells on the ocean floor. The preventer used by BP failed. The rules required more frequent inspections of those and other devices and dictated that experts onshore monitor drilling of highly complex wells in real time.”

And in February of this year the Trudeau government approved BP drilling offshore of Nova Scotia in waters twice as deep as where the BP disaster, in which about 4.9 million barrels of oil spilled into the ocean over 87 days, took place.

The National Observer has reported, “The new BP rig floats near to two crucial habitats. Sable Island National Park Reserve is its closest neighbour sitting 48 kilometers from the drill site, and the Gully Marine Protected Area is 71 kilometers away. The two ecosystems, home to a vast array of life including northern bottlenose whales, rare corals, and the famed wild horses of Sable Island, are vulnerable to a spill due to their proximity to the site. Also vulnerable to oil spills, increased underwater noise pollution and the potential of being struck by BP ships, are the few remaining North Atlantic right whales.”

That article adds, “Could Canada have done more to protect the ocean and coastlines by holding BP to the same standard for offshore drilling safety as countries like Australia and the U.K.? That would have meant requiring BP to house a ‘capping stack’ near the new drilling site. These 130 tonne steel giants, covered in tentacle-like pipes, were developed to seal the kind of underwater spill that decimated the Gulf of Mexico in 2010. As things stand, the nearest one is a two-week Atlantic crossing away, in the coastal city of Stavanger, Norway. Canadian bureaucrats reviewing the project initially asked for a capping stack to be kept nearby but BP pushed back and Canada relented.”

As the BP oil rig began drilling off the coast of Nova Scotia on April 22 (Earth Day), federal environment minister Catherine McKenna was picking up plastic waste on a beach near Halifax to mark the day.  Trudeau has put plastic pollution on the G7 agenda, but not deep-water oil and gas exploration.

In terms of other G7 countries UK Prime Minister Theresa May supports continued oil and gas drilling in the North Sea and in August 2016 asked Argentina to end some of its restrictions on offshore oil and gas exploration around the Falklands Islands in the South Atlantic Ocean, while Italian prime minister Paolo Gentiloni recently celebrated a Rome-based transnational corporation winning a 40-year contract to drill offshore in the Mediterranean Sea. Under prime minister Shinzō Abe, Japan recently became the first country in the world to mine its seabed for zinc, gold, copper and lead.

Our online petition Offshore drilling not worth the risk: Protect communities, fisheries, tourism and climate from Big Oil has now reached 15,491 signatures. Help send a strong message to Prime Minister Trudeau by adding your name.