Monday, June 20, 2011

For a Moratorium of Oil and Gas in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence

Old Harry Project:

The Federal Environment Minister must consider the recommendation of the Offshore Petroleum Board of Newfoundland and refer the project to a review panel Magdalen Islands, 14 June 2011 – The St. Lawrence Coalition welcomes the recommendation of the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (the Board) to the Federal Minister of the Environment, Peter Kent, requesting that the proposed Old Harry project be referred to a federal review panel. Minister Kent must be attentive to the many concerns expressed by the public and must implement, without delay, a review panel.

The St. Lawrence Coalition will file its application today for a review panel to the Federal Minister of the Environment. The Coalition states that all coastal communities must be consulted in this project and that the scope of the assessment should be extended to the entire Gulf. A review panel would allow a better understanding of the implications that this new industry might have across the Gulf of St. Lawrence and the five coastal provinces.

At the interprovincial forum on oil and gas that was held in the Magdalen Islands on April 8th and 9th, representatives of coastal communities, municipal managers, representatives of fishermen, sea farmers, as well as tourism and environmental associations, called for a federal review panel on the exploratory drilling project filed by Corridor Resources Inc. with regards to the Old Harry prospect. Since then, many groups have officially filed an application review panel, including the urban agglomeration council of the Magdalen Islands and the Quebec Federation of Municipalities. 

“A federal review panel must be ordered by the Environment Minister if the project is likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects or if public concerns warrant it” says Danielle Giroux, spokesperson for the St. Lawrence Coalition. “In the case of the proposed project by Corridor Resources Inc. we know that the environmental impacts of exploratory drilling may be very important and that many groups around the Gulf are clearly showing their concerns, want to be consulted, and are asking for a moratorium for the entire Gulf” continued Ms. Giroux. She also stresses that a record number of 52 submissions were sent to the Office following the initiative of coastal communities concerned about this project.

The St. Lawrence Coalition highlights the fact that the Gulf is a unique and extremely fragile ecosystem. Some aspects, such as environmental impacts can only be addressed with a global vision beyond the administrative and political boundaries that are drawn artificially.

“We ask the premiers of Quebec, PEI, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador to officially ask that the proposed exploratory drilling project of Old Harry be subjected to a federal review panel for the benefit of all”, explains Christian Simard, Director General of Nature Québec. “In Quebec, we expect the Charest government to be consistent and that it demands a prompt review panel, as it is not only in the interests of Quebec, but it is also in line with the motion adopted at the National Assembly” added Mr. Simard. The motion that passed unanimously in October 2010 required that the Canadian Government and that of Newfoundland, as well as the Office, wait for the results of the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA-2) currently performed by the Quebec government before issuing any drilling permit at the Old Harry site, and to suspend the current authorizations.

The Coalition calls on all communities of the five provinces bordering the Gulf to also demand a review panel to the federal Minister of the Environment.

Corridor Resources Inc. is currently conducting an impact study for the Old Harry project and plans to carry out a first exploratory drilling in 2012.

The St. Lawrence Coalition includes 60 organizations and associations from various economic sectors and over 2400 individuals. Members of the Coalition are calling for a moratorium on exploration and exploitation of oil and gas across the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Sources :
Danielle Giroux
Spokesperson for the St. Lawrence Coalition (french interviews)
President, Attention FragÎles
418-986-6644 /

Manon Dubois, Communications specialist
David Fondation Suzuki
514-583-8455 /

Christian Simard, Director general
Nature Québec
418-648-2104 x2071 /

Sylvain Archambault, Protected areas and land use coordinator
CPAWS Québec chapter
418-686-1854 /

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