Allowing oil and gas activity off western NL proves offshore board cannot say no to oil industry

Media Release, May 6, 2014

Pour la version française, cliquez ici

The Sierra Club Canada Foundation and Save Our Seas and Shores are condemning the Newfoundland offshore board’s decision to allow the oil and gas industry to gain a toehold in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board released the results of a Strategic Environmental Assessment for the Western Newfoundland May 5th.

“This decision confirms that these offshore boards are not capable of being a truly arms-length independent regulator,” according to Gretchen Fitzgerald, Director of the Atlantic Canada Chapter of Sierra Club. “The consultations performed as part of this assessment were woefully inadequate – and their decision that that they can mitigate oil development in sensitive marine areas with spawning, nurseries and migration happening year around for over 2200 marine species is irresponsible and sets a reckless precedent.”

The report and public consultations for the environmental assessment were performed by AMEC, which boasts on its website that it is the world’s “largest oil and gas industry services provider.”

This same offshore board approved seismic testing – which involves deafening blasts from underwater air guns - in the Gulf of St Lawrence, while endangered blue whales were migrating in 2010.

“I want this alleged regulator to state how they think they can clean up an oil spill under winter ice,” states Mary Gorman of Save Our Seas and Shores Coalition. “ This winter, they couldn’t even get the Newfoundland ferry unstuck in sea ice – how would they deal with a massive oil disaster? Furthermore, they have completely ignored the fact that the Gulf of St Lawrence has counter clockwise currents like a toilet, that only flushes once a year into the Atlantic, leaving months for a spill to wash on the beaches of NS, NB, PEI, NL and QC.”

The offshore board’s decision was released just days after the publication of the May edition of National Geographic Magazine, which features a stunning article and images of the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The article closes with the quote: ”The good news is we get to choose—algal weeds or whales, oil-eating bacteria or seals. We get to choose because for now the gulf is still wild with life, with trillions of individual organisms, and a great many hopes and dreams.”

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Contact:

Gretchen Fitzgerald: 902.444.3113 (Office) / 902.444.7096 (cell)
Mary Gorman: 902.926.2128

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