K’JIPUKTUK (Halifax) – Yesterday Environment and Climate Change Canada Minister Catherine McKenna announced federal approval for an application made by BP to drill up to seven exploratory wells, about 300kms southeast of Nova Scotia.
“I am shocked that the Minister said this project is ‘not likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects’,” says Marion Moore, member of the Campaign to Protect Offshore Nova Scotia (CPONS). “We’re fighting to keep offshore drilling out of Nova Scotia and protect the coasts and our communities from the devastation people continue to experience in the Gulf of Mexico after the Deepwater Horizon explosion in 2010. Our communities rely on fisheries and coastal tourism for our livelihoods and economies, and offshore drilling puts it all at risk.”
“New fossil fuel projects are not consistent with our commitment to the Paris climate commitment and the gravity of the climate crisis,” says Andrea Harden-Donahue, Energy and Climate Justice Campaigner with the Council of Canadians. “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.”
It is not clear how the regulatory oversight of this project will be affected by proposed changes in responsibility for environmental assessment duties.
“CPONS made a submission to the environmental assessment review in 2016 calling for more stringent regulation on offshore drilling,” says Moore. “Our submission has been wholly ignored. Instead, Environment and Climate Change Canada has suggested they may shift responsibility for environmental assessment of offshore drilling to pro-industry offshore petroleum boards. This reeks of regulatory capture by the fossil fuel industry.”
Nova Scotia already has a moratorium on oil and gas exploration and drilling on George’s Bank, and organizations across the Atlantic region have been pushing to expand it to the entirety of Nova Scotia and the Gulf of Saint Lawrence. In 2014 representatives of the Innu, Wolastoq (Maliseet), and Mi’kmaq nations called for a moratorium on drilling in the Gulf. Recently in Halifax a coalition of 25 fishing and environmental organizations called for environmental assessments to remain under the auspices of Environment and Climate Change Canada.
Energy and Climate Justice Campaigner, Council of Canadians
Atlantic Regional Organizer, Council of Canadians
South Shore chapter, Council of Canadians