Environment Media release

Media release: Offshore Alliance message to Senators: It’s time to rein in the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board (CNSOPB)

For Immediate Release: April 23, 2019

K’jipuktuk, April 23, 2019 – A coalition of fishers, fish plant operators and workers, tourism operators, scientists, environmental organizations and communities will be delivering a message to a Senate committee that is meeting in Halifax this week – the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board (CNSOPB) can’t be both a regulator and a promoter of offshore oil and gas drilling.

The Offshore Alliance will propose amendments to Ottawa’s new Impact Assessment Act (IAA or Bill C-69) at a Senate committee hearing on the Bill  in Halifax at the Four Points Sheraton on April 24. The Committee will begin sessions in Eastern Canada in St. John’s, NL today, April 23 and have sessions in St. John, NB April 25.

“We look forward to this opportunity to present our concerns to the Committee, given the Bill’s critical importance to our marine environment,” says Mark Butler, Policy Director, Ecology Action Centre. “The silence of our Liberal MPs on a matter of such vital importance to our citizens is both disappointing and inexcusable.”

The Offshore Alliance recognizes that the IAA is a valuable improvement over the previous federal environmental impact assessment regime (CEAA, 2012), particularly with the addition of early assessment and climate considerations. It falls short, however, where developments in offshore Atlantic Canada are concerned.

“To regain public confidence and make impact assessment more credible, Bill C-69 significantly reduces the influence of the National Energy Board and the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission in project assessment” says Lisa Mitchell, Executive Director, East Coast Environmental Law. “But Ottawa failed to apply that same logic to the Offshore Petroleum Boards in Atlantic Canada and instead the Bill hands the Boards more power to influence decisions than they currently have under CEAA, 2012.”

The Offshore Alliance says Bill C-69 should be amended to remove the offshore boards from any role in the Impact Assessment process other than their current ‘advisory role’.

The Alliance is also calling for a full public inquiry into the pros and cons of oil and gas exploration offshore before any further seismic tests or exploratory drilling is approved by the regulators.

“There are too many unanswered questions: about the risks to our sustainable industries, like the fishery and tourism, and the communities that depend on them; about the impact on the marine biosphere; about the impact on our climate change commitments; about the response to catastrophic spills; and about alternative, less risky paths to development of our marine resources,” says John Davis, Director, Clean Ocean Action Committee.

“The oil and gas industry is trying to sway Senators and  weaken this bill. We need them to hear that our oceans need greater protection, not less, in an era of climate crisis.” according to Gretchen Fitzgerald, National Programs Director of Sierra Club Canada Foundation. “Giving the offshore boards more power is poor policy and a break with Atlantic Canadians who value and rely on a healthy living environment.”

For further information or comment:

  • Mark Butler, EAC Policy Director, (Disponible pour des entrevues en Francais)
  • Lisa Mitchell, Executive Director, East Coast Environmental Law,
  • Gretchen Fitzgerald, National Program Director, Sierra Club Canada,
  • Colin Sproul, President, Bay of Fundy Inshore Fishermen’s Assoc.