From: The Campaign to Protect Offshore Nova Scotia (CPONS)
Date: May 30, 2016
We are writing to ask you to join a campaign addressing the economic and environmental risks associated with decisions by the Canada Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board (CNSOPB) approving exploratory drilling activity in Nova Scotia’s offshore. The Campaign to Protect Offshore NS (CPONS) asserts that it is imperative and urgent that immediate action be taken to:
- make the CNSOPB more broadly representative of the community;
- develop a democratic, transparent and accountable decision-making process;
- hold mandatory public hearings on key proposals with funding for public interest intervention as well as testimony by independent expert witnesses; and,
- improve in-house capacity to ensure that scientifically credible environmental and socioeconomic research is available to decision makers and the community.
On October 20, 2015—one day after the federal election—many Nova Scotians were caught by surprise when the CNSOPB granted Shell the right to drill adjacent to fishing grounds. We need a process that upholds the new Liberal government’s promise to “engage in appropriate regulatory oversight, including credible environmental assessments” based on their understanding that “[w]hile governments grant permits for resource development, only communities can grant permission” (http://www.liberal.ca/realchange/environmental-assessments/ May 14, 2016)
Oil companies will cite statistics to argue that accidents in the industry are few. Premier Stephen McNeil has claimed that Shell has a strong safety and environmental record. But industry records tell a very different story. The following sample of Shell accidents demonstrates that Nova Scotian communities should not ignore the very real risks that accompany offshore drilling:
- Shell’s Uniacke G-72 blowout off our shores took ten days to bring under control.
- Shell operations in Nigeria have released twice as much oil into the Niger River delta than the BP Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.
- Shell’s platform leak on the Gannet Alpha in 2011 was the worst in the North Sea in 10 years.
- Leaks in the flow lines connecting four wells to Shell’s platform caused a 2×13 mile oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico, May 2016.
On March 7, 2016, CBC News reported that Shell was forced to suspend activity in the Shelburne Basin because the 2,000 meter-long pipe used to connect the surface ship to the sea floor accidentally disconnected during bad weather. This, along with Shell’s track record, does not bode well for the health of our economy or for our coastal and offshore waters and marine life.
The provincial economy would be far better off if the government were to invest in its renewable energy future and avoid the risks associated with digging for and then transporting offshore oil. The Nova Scotia government needs to be reminded that their Renewable Electricity Plan (2010) is a commitment to make our province greener and cleaner by becoming less dependent on fossil fuels (http://energy.novascotia.ca/renewables). Another strategy would be to follow the Obama government’s decision to ban offshore drilling along the entire Eastern seaboard, a step taken in response to communities’ concerns after the BP disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. At the very least, we need a reformed CNSOPB that can say “No” to Big Oil and take vulnerable fishery zones off the table.
Local municipalities are preparing a resolution as a joint submission to the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities at their annual 2016 conference. The resolution supports members of the seafood industry in their efforts to protect the critically important fishing, spawning and nursery grounds, required for the ongoing health of this industry and our coastal communities. Similarly, CPONS is in the process of setting up meetings with federal and provincial representatives to ask for their support.
Groups and individuals can help strengthen our campaign in one or all of these ways: simply reply to us at firstname.lastname@example.org endorsing the campaign; compose your own letter of support sharing our concerns about offshore drilling; and/or join our campaign committee. You are also welcome to contact us with your questions or feedback. A member of our committee will be in touch to follow up. And please like or share our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/ProtectOffshoreNS/
CPONS contends that, if the regulatory board (CNSOPB) was restructured as we are recommending, drilling would not be permitted in close proximity to vulnerable spawning and nursery areas. We do not want our livelihoods in sustainable fishery and tourism industries put at risk. We do not want energy and economic progress continually defined only in terms of oil exploration. If you agree, please support the Campaign. Together we can protect our fisheries, oceans, and communities from a potential oil and gas disaster.
Thank you for your consideration and anticipated support.
Don Calhoun, Marilyn Keddy, Marion Moore, Charlene Morton
Members of the C-PONS Coordinating Committee
A project of the South Shore Chapter of the Council of Canadians
CNSOPB Board member bios http://www.cnsopb.ns.ca/about-us/the-board
Please read: “Getting It Right: Bringing Democracy to Decisions in Nova Scotia’s Offshore” — A background paper prepared by Peter Puxley (pdf file)