Right decision: Groups applaud governments’ decision to drop oil and gas licence

For Immediate Release: Monday, Dec. 4, 2023

Media Statement Graphic. From page: Right decision: Groups applaud governments’ decision to drop oil and gas licenceMi’kma’ki / Nova Scotia – Environmental and community groups are applauding today’s decision by the federal and Nova Scotian governments to not approve an offshore oil and gas licence that would have been sandwiched between Sable Island and the Gully Marine Protected Area off the coast of Nova Scotia.

“We were very concerned about the impact of seismic blasting and drilling on marine life, particularly on northern bottlenose whales in the Gully. We’re so relieved this license has been dropped and we can get on with urgently needed climate solutions such as offshore wind,” says Gretchen Fitzgerald, national program director with Sierra Club Canada Foundation.

The decision to veto the proposed licence is set against ongoing global climate talks in Dubai.

“This is very welcome news,” says Maggy Burns, executive director with the Ecology Action Centre. “Especially with global climate talks underway in Dubai. The International Panel on Climate Change and other bodies have consistently called for a halt to all new oil and gas projects if we want to meet climate targets. Rejecting this bid is a concrete step toward that goal.”

The proposed licence would have been for $1.5 million in work expenditures, one of the smallest bids in N.S. history.

“Nova Scotia has made strong commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and develop offshore wind. This bid was incompatible with those goals,” says Lisa Mitchell, executive director with East Coast Environmental Law Association.

The Offshore Alliance, a coalition of environmental and community groups, has been working for years to protect N.S. waters, shorelines and ecosystems from risks associated with offshore oil and gas exploration and development.

“Those of us who understand that we should be working to protect and enhance the value of our fishery resource, could not be happier with this decision,” says John Davis, co-chair with the Offshore Alliance.

N.S. groups look forward to working with the provincial government to ensure that the province meets and beats its climate targets. The adoption of wind, other renewables and storage will play a key role in this effort.

In a press release from Oct. 4, 2023, the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board announced the $1.5 million bid but noted that joint approval was required from the provincial and federal governments. On Friday, Nov. 3, 2023, Ministers Jonathan Wilkinson and Tory Rushton announced that they were suspending the decision to approve for thirty days. The deadline was set to expire Monday, Dec. 4, 2023.


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An important note on referencing the Sierra Club Canada Foundation: There are three distinct Sierra Clubs: Sierra Club (in the United States), Sierra Club BC (in British Columbia), and Sierra Club Canada Foundation (operating nationally in Canada). While we often work together, these organizations are all separate legal entities. To be accurate, you should refer to our organization in articles or other coverage using the title “Sierra Club Canada” or “Sierra Club Canada Foundation.” Our organization, the Sierra Club Canada Foundation, also contains five chapters: Sierra Club Ontario, Sierra Club Québec, Sierra Club Atlantic Canada, Sierra Club Prairie, and Sierra Youth (which is nationwide).