Call for bids under new exemption for offshore drilling accelerates risk to marine refuge

James Gunvaldsen Klaassen, Ecojustice lawyer said:

“We’re seeing in real time how the exemption regulation fast-tracks increased exploratory drilling in sensitive offshore waters without public consultation. No one has properly assessed the many environmental risks of ramping up drilling. Rushing to drill in spite of the danger to the marine environment defeats the purpose of Canada’s new Impact Assessment Act, which is supposed to make government decision-making more transparent and improve the credibility of environmental assessments.”

Jordy Thomson, Marine Science and Conservation Coordinator, Ecology Action Centre said:

“If we continue to leave marine refuges in Atlantic Canada open to drilling, they will have little conservation value. The fishing industry agreed to set these sites aside to protect fragile species and habitats and the oil and gas industry should do the same. At a time when we need to curb biodiversity loss, reduce emissions and support sustainable industries, this is a step in exactly the wrong direction. Oil and gas should not be allowed in these spaces.”

Gretchen Fitzgerald, National Programs Director, Sierra Club Canada Foundation said:

“The Call for Bids shows the exemption for drilling is being used to incentivize drilling, largely in secret, during a global pandemic – all in an effort to extract oil and gas that we cannot burn if we wish to ensure climate safety. The region included in the Call for Bids includes areas Canadians and the fishing industry have set aside for protection, and will be preceded by seismic blasting that will harm marine mammals that make the area their home. All in a region that has seen an increase in large spills. It is past time for Canada to take its foot off the pedal on offshore oil and gas. ”

 Sigrid Kuehnemund, Vice President, Ocean Conservation, WWF-Canada said:

“Oil and gas exploration and exploitation is never compatible with ocean conservation. Opening up the Northeast Newfoundland Slope Marine Refuge to these activities undermines its contribution to Canada’s domestic and international marine conservation targets. The Northeast Newfoundland Slope was declared a marine refuge to protect fish nurseries and cold-water corals and sponges and a call for bids in this area puts marine ecosystems at risk.

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Ecojustice[3] goes to court and uses the power of the law to defend nature, combat climate change, and fight for a healthy environment. Its strategic, innovative public interest lawsuits lead to legal precedents that deliver lasting solutions to Canada’s most urgent environmental problems. As Canada’s largest environmental law charity, Ecojustice operates offices in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, Ottawa, and Halifax.

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