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Sable Island National Park Would Allow Gas Drilling Deep Underground

Environment  (tags: destruction, conservation, environment, ecosystems, energy, fossil fuels, globalwarming, greenhousegases, globalwarming, climatechange, climate-change, CO2emissions, Sable Island, Canada, Peter Kent, Harper )

- 1887 days ago -
Proposed government legislation to create a new national park on Atlantic Canada's famed Sable Island -- known for its wild horses and rich biodiversity -- will still allow for fossil fuel exploration and drilling deep underground, Peter Kent said.

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Michael O (176)
Saturday April 20, 2013, 10:31 am
By Mike De Souza, Postmedia News

“No risks have been identified,” Canadian Environment Minister Peter Kent said. “Horizontal drilling is a very well established resource tool.”

Kent said that the legislation, introduced in the Senate, was created under unique circumstances since the small island southeast of Halifax “fabled for its wild horses, shipwrecks and one of the largest dune systems in eastern Canada,” is also in the middle of an active petroleum field.

But he praised oil giant Exxon for giving up its surface drilling rights, which would be prohibited at the new Sable Island National Park Reserve.

“On their own initiative, they have not had to be cajoled or begged to give up their surface rights,” Kent said. “I believe they told the committee . . . that if we were to withdraw this potential future provision for horizontal drilling it would be a deal breaker and we would lose the opportunity to protect Sable Island.”

The Nova Scotia government reached a deal with the federal government in 2011 to create the national park and both pledged to table legislation to restrict oil and gas exploration on the island, in spite of existing corporate drilling rights.

Despite the surface drilling ban, horizontal drilling would allow companies to access deep reserves through an offshore entry point more than one nautical mile away from the island’s boundaries, if approved by a federal offshore regulator.

Gerard Julian, the co-chair and chief of the Paq’tnkek First Nation, said his people were not consulted on the legislation, as required by the constitution, and were concerned the government would fail to adequately study the historic Mi’kmaq presence on the island. He said Parks Canada should fund the Mi’kmaq to do this archaeological work, which previously wasn’t possible because of visitation restrictions.

“Our nation’s desire and perspective is grounded in concepts that have been passed down from generation to generation; concepts of respect, integrity and environmental safeguards,” Julian told the committee. “How can any government department make decisions on the lands and waters of our traditional territories without including the Mi’kmaq in these conversations?”

He also said his First Nation supports a ban of any petroleum work on the new national park.

“I think we should really consider just not doing any exploration there until we have these archeological tracks in place and studies and then possibly look at amendments to that legislation further on down the road, if that is possible.”

Parks Canada CEO Alan Latourelle had told the committee, a few minutes earlier, that he didn’t know how many meetings he had with First Nations, but was still working with them to reach a management agreement and offer funding.

Liberal Sen. Pierrette Ringuette said there was only a small quantity of fossil fuels beneath the island, compared to in the surrounding waters, and suggested that the bill should accept changes proposed by the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, calling for a ban on all exploration.

“If in 30, 40 or 50 years, even though the resources are small, if it’s absolutely necessary to exploit it, the legislation could be revised based on new technologies, and conservation efforts.”

Liberal Sen. Grant Mitchell said Ringuette raised some good points, but suggested he preferred to adopt the bill now and improve it in future, if necessary.

The Conservatives could force it to be adopted, since they have a majority both in the Senate and the House of Commons. NDP deputy leader and environment critic Megan Leslie, whose Halifax riding includes the island, said the national park designation was important, but she wanted to hear more details about potential concerns on provisions allowing the horizontal drilling and low-impact activity, before deciding whether to support the legislation.

“Low impact exploration would be unprecedented,” said Leslie. “I can’t think of any situation where this would be allowed.”

© Copyright (c) Postmedia News


Past Member (0)
Saturday April 20, 2013, 10:34 am
Thanks for sharing.

Michael O (176)
Saturday April 20, 2013, 10:34 am
Once again, we have the ENVIRONMENT MINISTER trumpetting fossil fuel development. The absurdity of the situation is mind-boggling. Peter Kent is a joke.

Julie P (154)
Saturday April 20, 2013, 4:12 pm
This is really sad.

In addition to the wild horses:

"Sable Island is as unique in character as it is in biological diversity. The island is home to at least six endemic species of invertebrates, including unique populations of beetles, moths, and a freshwater sponge. More than 320 species of birds have been observed on Sable Island, including breeding populations of endangered Roseate Terns and the ‘Ipswich’ subspecies of the Savannah Sparrow, which nests exclusively on Sable."


"In general, the Scotian Shelf lies in the path of Atlantic storms year round, many of which are severe. In late summer and early fall, the region can be affected by tropical cyclones (hurricanes and tropical storms) as these spiral up the east coast of North America. Although climate models show poor agreement on the future intensity of synoptic storms, the general indication is that tropical cyclones will become more intense under a regime of climate change."

"the number and diversity of animals found in the waters near Sable Island suggest that this is an important area for marine mammals. Harrison and Fenton (1998) suggested that it could be the most important area on the Scotian Shelf for all marine mammals and Amirault (1995) suggested that it could be an area of global significance."

The report lists other issues such as endangered whales, the fact that the area is both a fish and a seal nursery and potential impacts on corals.
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