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News brief: Offshore oil regulator feeling the heat

KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – Feeling the pressure of increased public scrutiny, the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board (CNSOPB) met this afternoon with municipal councillors from western Nova Scotia, hoping to convince them that offshore oil exploration is safe.

The CNSOPB is the federal-provincial body that gave BP, one of the world’s worst polluters, the go-ahead to resume drilling for oil along the Scotian Shelf after it spilled 136,000 litres of synthetic drilling fluid,

Marion Moore, of the Campaign to Protect Offshore Nova Scotia (CPONS), a member of the Offshore Alliance, has some advice for the councillors who attended this afternoon’s meeting.

“I would tell them that they’re being fed a big story from an organization that is completely captured by the oil industry,”  Moore tells the Nova Scotia Advocate. “Two members are appointed by the federal government, two are provincial appointees, and then there is a chair. All of them have strong ties to the industry. There are no environmentalists, no citizens, no Mi’kmaq, and no fishers.”

An earlier information session for municipal governments, also hosted by the CNSOPB, was very much a one-way event, says Moore. “When they did this in the spring, we stood outside an handed out leaflets. Councillors who attended told us that the meeting was some two hours long, and only 15 minutes were set aside to ask questions. The person who spoke as a scientists could not answer their questions adequately,” Moore says.

Three municipalities, the Town of Shelburne, the Municipality of Shelburne and the Municipality of the District of Lunenburg have all passed motions calling for a public inquiry. In addition, the Town of Lunenburg, the Town of Mahone Bay and the Municipality of the Region of Kings have all written strong letters expressing concern about the risks of offshore oil exploration.

More municipalities will follow, Moore says.

Next week, several events, including a rally and a flotilla, in Halifax and Mahone Bay, will raise awareness of the risks associated with offshore oil and gas exploration. These events are to offer a counterpoint to that week’s  Core Energy conference on Canada’s East Coast energy future, hosted by the Maritimes Energy Association.   

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