Thursday, March 24, 2011

Local Environmental Group Takes Action Against Gulf Drilling

A letter came in the inbox from the Saint Lawrence Coalition, an environmental group set up to protect the Gulf of Saint Lawrence from the reckless drilling of oil. An oil spill such as that in the Gulf of Mexico one year ago has brought many concerns to islanders and the population of at least four other provinces. This is the letter in whole. There will be more information coming in the next few days and weeks. You can support the moratorium at

Dear St. Lawrence Coalition members,

Our next actions will be crucial in determining the future. To guarantee the success of these actions, we need your help.

Urgent action of the Coalition:

Participate in the consultation on the draft Scoping Document of the Offshore Board that will define the requirements of an environmental assessment of the Corridor Resources Inc. drilling project.

Background: Last February 22, Corridor Resources Inc. filed a proposal with the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board for exploratory drilling at the site of Old Harry, offshore Newfoundland and Labrador. This project could be realized as early as 2012. However, since 2005, all exploratory drilling projects are submitted only to a screening, a form of environmental assessment that does not involve a public hearing or broader consultation with the public. Moreover, this review was overseen by the Petroleum Board. Recall that the Board was severely criticized in the recent Wells Report that noted the conflict of interest inherent in the Board’s structure and emphasized that the safety of the workers and the environment is not adequately ensured. Note also that it was exploratory drilling that led to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Consultation with the Board: Following the tabling of this drilling proposal, the Petroleum Board has produced a draft Scoping Document, the objective of which is to specify the requirements of the impact study that Corridor Resources must realize before obtaining its permit. The Board is now inviting the public to provide comments on the Scoping Document by March 28, 2011.
Note that this is a preliminary step leading up to the impact study; we do not comment on the impact study at this stage.

Position paper: While we fundamentally challenge the legitimacy of the Petroleum Board to regulate in a safe manner this industry, we have decided to participate in this consultation to officially express our concerns, as provided by law. Indeed, the number and significance of public concerns tabled in this process could lead the authorities (the Board and/or the Federal Ministry of Environment) to make the environmental assessment process more stringent and to put it under the authority of an environmental commission as provided in Article 20 of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act: a commission may be established if public concerns warrant. For this reason, we also invite you to participate in great numbers in this consultation.

Our position paper clearly challenges the legitimacy of the Board, proposes that the spatial and temporal scope of the environmental assessment be increased and requests that it be conducted by an independent environmental commission as explained above.

What you can do: We will send you our position paper* so that you can provide comment. Please return your comments to us no later than Friday, March 25 at 17h.

You can also submit your own position paper (in French or English) to be received at the Board no later than March 28. It may be a simple letter that summarizes your concerns.

The St. Lawrence Coalition’s position paper may stimulate your thoughts and provide a basis for your comments to the Board.

We will also send a position paper produced by Marianne Papillon (in French). The initiative of this citizen may inspire you. Ms. Papillon has agreed to allow her text to be reproduced in part or in whole.
We believe that significant, interprovincial participation in this consultation will adequately communicate the concerns of the population associated with this project and offers a good chance of bringing about the formation of a commission.

Future action:

Engage representatives of the federal and provincial governments to communicate our concerns about the need for a commission and a review of the structure of the Petroleum Board.

Soon, we will prepare a form letter expressing our concerns about the need for an environmental commission and an in depth review of the structure of the Board. You will be asked to send this letter to several key leaders, whose contact information we will provide.

Then we will invite you to personalize this letter as you wish; you can reproduce it in whole or in part, and send it to representatives of the governments concerned.

We hope that we can count on you at this important time.

Danielle and the entire team: Karel, Jean-Patrick, Christian, Sylvain, Jérôme and Patrick
Danielle Giroux
Saint Lawrence Coalition