Environment Media release

News release: CNSOPB public engagement a sham – Offshore Alliance

(Lunenburg, N.S.) – The Offshore Alliance says a so-called ‘public engagement exercise’ by the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board (CNSOPB) was totally inadequate and is happy to see it scrapped.

The Alliance, a growing association of over twenty Nova Scotia environmental, fisheries and citizens’ organizations, was formed to press the Trudeau government to make good on its promise “to make environmental assessment credible again.”

The CNSOPB is the federal-provincial agency that decides whether, where, when and under what conditions oil companies can explore for oil and gas in our offshore waters. It is currently considering an application from BP, the company that brought the world the disastrous, Deepwater Horizon oil spill, to pursue a deep-water exploratory drilling program along the Scotian Shelf.

“What this confirms,” says Gretchen Fitzgerald, National Program Director with Sierra Club Canada Foundation, “is that offshore boards like the CNSOPB only pay attention to oil industry evidence. They aren’t interested in the contribution of an informed public.”

Instead of holding public hearings, which should be required before industry projects are given the go-ahead, the CNSOPB through its PR staff suggested on short notice a facilitated 45 minute “sharing circle” for all 8-12 invited “stakeholder groups.”

“The idea is a tragic joke,” says John Davis, Director of the Clean Ocean Action Committee (COAC), which represents more than 9,000 people who work in the fishery in Southwestern Nova Scotia. “They pretend to consult the public and then give the industry what it wants in a decision that ignores scientific evidence and threatens our livelihoods and our marine and coastal environment.

“The CNSOPB simply will not admit the truth – there is no scientifically proven effective response to a blow-out in deep waters like those along the Shelf,” explains Davis.

Marion Moore, explained why her organization, the Campaign to Protect Offshore Nova Scotia (CPONS), will not participate in the CNSOPB’s fake engagement process.

“How can an unelected board, dominated by oil industry veterans, decide what is an acceptable risk for our communities along the South Shore, and do so without considering the evidence we have to present?

Says Moore, “The CNSOPB’s actions confirm that this agency does not belong in the impact assessment process. What’s more, its membership and mandate need to be reformed completely if its decisions are to be legitimate and credible. Unbelievably, the government’s new Impact Assessment Act, Bill C-69, proposes even more power for the industry-captive oil boards.”

Members of the Offshore Alliance:

• Bay of Fundy Inshore Fishermen’s Association
• Campaign to Protect Offshore Nova
• Clean Ocean Action Committee
• Coldwater Lobster Association
• Council of Canadians
• Council of Canadians – South Shore Chapter
• East Coast Environmental Law Association
• Ecology Action Centre
• Gulf Nova Scotia Herring Federation
• Lobstermen’s Association Area 34
• Lobstermen’s Association Area 33
• Maritime Fishermen’s Union, Local 4
• Maritime Fishermen’s Union, Local 9
• Maritime Fishermen’s Union, Local 6
• Nova Scotia Seafood Alliance
• Save our Seas and Shores
• Save Our Seas and Shores – PEI Chapter
• Scotia-Fundy Inshore Fishermen’s Association
• Shelburne County Quota Group
• Sierra Club Canada Foundation
• St-Lawrence Coalition / Coalition Saint-Laurent
• St. Margaret’s Bay Stewardship Assoc.

For comment:
Gretchen Fitzgerald, Sierra Club Foundation, National Program Director, gretchenf@sierraclub.ca

John Davis, Director, Clean Ocean Action Committee, (COAC, jbdavis@eco-nova.com

Marion Moore, Campaign to Protect Offshore Nova Scotia (CPONS), marionm12@gmail.com