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This Sunday at the Green Living Show, Green Heroes announced their new winner, Mary Gorman. Driven by her love for the Gulf of St. Lawrence, Mary has fought to prevent oil and gas development in the area, after the Canada-Nova Scotia Petroleum Board issued two leases for oil and gas development on both sides of Cape Breton Island.

From left to right: Gretchen Fitzgerald, Sierra Club of Canada, Jason Priestley, Mary Gorman, Save Our Seas and Shores Coalition. Photo Credit: Ruby Tree Film

Mary’s 12 year battle to protect the thousands of marine species in the Gulf and the Acadian, Gaelic and Aboriginal communities that surround it has required every ounce of her passion and dedication to the cause. She has involved fishermen, First Nations leaders,  several environmental organizations and more recently public figures like Jason Priestley to bring awareness and protect the Gulph. Taking the BP Oil spill into account, we must be aware of the threat that this might represent for our land.

Despite obstacles, Mary has managed to get the two shoreline leases for offshore oil and gas at Cape Breton withdrawn. As a Grand Prize winner, Mary and her drive to protect the Gulf of St. Lawrence will be featured on the next season of TVO’s Green Heroes series. When called to the stage, a truly passionate voice took over the mic, urging us all to take a look at the situation and join her cause for the protection of our country’s environment. Mary’s heart-felt gratitude and unwavering determination were written all over her words.


  1. Debra Black | April 21, 2011 at 1:05 am

    Congratulations Mary!

  2. admin | May 6, 2011 at 4:11 pm

    Dr David Suzuki calls for action to protect the Gulf of St. Lawrence

    MAGDALEN ISLANDS, QC, May 5 /CNW Telbec/ – Last Saturday, Dr. David Suzuki, with Georges Stroumboulopoulos of CBC’s “The Hour” television show, Karel Mayrand, Executive Director of the David Suzuki Foundation in Quebec and Danielle Giroux of Attention FragÎles, joined a gathering of Islanders on Old Harry beach for a flag-raising ceremony for the protection of the Gulf of St. Lawrence against potential oil and gas spills.

    During the ceremony, Dr. Suzuki revealed a flag on a sea-blue background with a bright orange starfish at its centre, representing the Gulf’s many resources and the five provinces bordering it. Dr. Suzuki also initiated a vibrant call to action to protect the Gulf of St. Lawrence and its ecosystem and communities by reading a statement titled “The Declaration of the Defenders of the Saint-Lawrence.”

    Dr. Suzuki and Georges Stroumboulopoulos were at the Magdalen Islands to film a special online segment that will be posted on the CBC’s website in late May or early June. The main objective of the web segment is to raise Canadians’ awareness of the Gulf’s importance and the risks associated with oil and gas drilling.

    “The Gulf of St. Lawrence is one of the planet’s most precious and unique ecosystems,” declared Dr. Suzuki. “Nature cannot be forced to conform to human borders and economy. Instead, we must maintain its health and subordinate our interests to the gulf.”

    In order to educate the public about the interdependence between citizens and the St. Lawrence River, the David Suzuki Foundation launched a new campaign last month, “The St. Lawrence: Our Living River”. The campaign will offer individuals the opportunity to reconnect with the St. Lawrence River and Gulf by taking one or several of eight “David Suzuki Blue Actions” or by participating to an activity in their community on June 10th, the first-ever St. Lawrence Action Day.

    “A very strong current passed between Dr. Suzuki and the people of the Islands. His visit and his support provided a wave of hope to the people in the community, who must continue to mobilize our neighbours in the Atlantic Provinces to protect the Gulf of St. Lawrence and its precious and renewable resources,” commented Danielle Giroux, President of Attention FragÏles and spokesperson for the St. Lawrence Coalition.

    The public and coastal communities surrounding the Gulf can show their collective support to protect the Gulf by purchasing a miniature version of the symbolic flag that was hoisted on Old Harry Beach by Dr. Suzuki. As well, individuals are invited to send a letter to tell the government to protect the St. Lawrence Gulf from oil and gas development and to prevent disastrous spills.

    To view a web segment of the flag-raising ceremony and to watch Dr. Suzuki read the Declaration of the Defenders of the St. Lawrence Gulf, visit: http://www.davidsuzuki.org/issues/oceans/projects/saint-lawrence/help-us-protect-the-gulf-of-saint-lawrence/

    To send a letter to tell the government to protect the Gulf, visit: http://action.davidsuzuki.org/fr/st-laurent

    /NOTE TO PHOTO EDITORS: The photo accompanying this release is also available at http://photos.newswire.ca. Images are free to accredited members of the media/

    For further information:

    For more information on the “Our Living River” campaign, visit: http://www.davidsuzuki.org/fr/st-laurent

    For more information on the St. Lawrence Coalition, visit: http://www.coalitionsaintlaurent.ca/en/coalition

    To view the CBC’s web segment (available shortly) visit: http://www.cbc.ca/strombo/

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  3. Mary Gorman | May 6, 2011 at 5:08 pm

    How uplifting to have Dr. David Suzuki, an environmental crusader known all over this world, call our Gulf of St. Lawrence one of the most precious ecosystems on our planet!!

    Those of us who live on the Gulf know this to be true. We hope the whole world and certainly, our fellow Canadians, will start today to raise awareness and demand accountability from our federal government to protect the resources we need to sustain life on earth – our air, water, soil and food.

    Canada’s government has allowed the erosion of federal protections of our environment. They have placed offshore oil exploitation and development AHEAD of the protection of the environment, by allowing the oil industry to monitor its own environmental requirements.

    These recent shortsighted, irresponsible policies cannot continue.

    It is our responsibility as adults to protect what was given to us, for future generations.

    We must convey this reality to our elected officials, regardless of their political stripes.

    Our children deserve no less.

  4. Mary Gorman | July 8, 2011 at 4:19 am

    Hi everyone,

    I am posting an article that is in the New Glasgow News today.

    Local activist getting set for filming of documentary about gulf protection

    Published on July 7, 2011
    Jennifer Vardy Little
    Topics : TV Ontario , MERIGOMISH , Pictou County , Cape Breton
    MERIGOMISH – A local marine activist is preparing for her day in the spotlight.
    Merigomish resident Mary Gorman was named Canada’s latest Green Hero in April for her work in trying to protect the waters in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. As part of the recognition, she’ll be the subject of a documentary next month by GreenHeroes.tv, a television series and Internet channel that tells stories of regular people who become environmental heroes.
    “The TV Ontario crew will be coming down in mid- to late-August to shoot the documentary, and it will be aired sometime in the fall on TVO,” Gorman said.
    The backdrop of the documentary will be the Gulf of St. Lawrence, but it’s not certain yet whether it will be filmed in Pictou County or in Cape Breton. And it’s looking likely that Gorman won’t be the only familiar face featured on the show – writer Farley Mowat has expressed interest in participating.
    “We’re hoping he’ll be able to do it – it’s very exciting, I’ve spoken to him and he’s expressed interest, now the producers are talking to him,” Gorman said. “It’s very good news, he’s an internationally renowned writer and I’m certain that will bode well for us.”
    He’s also passionate about the cause, she adds.
    “I’m very thankful he’s willing to do it, having his name attached will certainly broaden awareness about protecting the most precious ecosystem on Earth,” Gorman said. “He lives in Cape Breton in the summers and he’s a pioneer in environmental protection of the Gulf. He was involved before the rest of us had any inkling in what was coming.”
    Raising awareness is the whole reason Gorman entered the Green Heroes competition.
    “The Gulf of St. Lawrence is the home of over 2,000 marine species,” she said. “Do we really want to risk it? Look at the Yellowstone spill happening right now, just as they couldn’t stop the oil spill in Mexico a year ago. The oil companies have proven they can drill wells in the ocean, but they’ve also proven they are incapable of stopping these spills. Drilling in the Gulf wouldn’t benefit people in Nova Scotia in any way.”
    Gorman is hoping Pictou County residents will rally in advance of the documentary filming and contact Central Nova MP Peter MacKay to ask him to throw his support behind the issue.
    “We want to appeal to the citizens in Pictou County to contact their MP, Peter MacKay. He’s obviously very popular but he’s done very little to focus on protecting the Gulf of St. Lawrence,” she said. “Those who support him – particularly the individuals with water frontage – need to approach him and ask if he’s willing to support us. Once an oil spill happens, it’s too late then, after the fact, to do anything.”

  5. Mary Gorman | July 9, 2011 at 8:10 pm

    Nfld. regulator calls for federal panel on offshore dispute
    OTTAWA— From Tuesday’s Globe and Mail
    Published Monday, Jun. 13, 2011 11:52AM EDT
    Last updated Monday, Jun. 13, 2011 7:16PM EDT
    Print/LicenseDecrease text sizeIncrease text size
    Newfoundland and Labrador’s offshore regulator wants the federal government to decide the contentious issue of whether to open the fish-rich Gulf of St. Lawrence to oil drilling.

    Described as the most prospective, unexplored area in Eastern Canada, the Old Harry site has become a battleground, pitting environmentalists and first nations against oil companies over development, and Quebec against Newfoundland over territorial claims.

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    In a letter released Monday, the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board urged Environment Minister Peter Kent to appoint a federal panel to decide whether to approve an exploration well proposed by Halifax-based Corridor Resources Ltd. (CDH-T3.26-0.14-4.12%) Citing BP PLC’s disastrous blowout in the Gulf of Mexico, board chairman Max Ruelokke said Canadians are demanding a high level of environmental screening for contentious projects.

    “In the aftermath of the blowout in the Gulf of Mexico, Canadians are particularly sensitive to the risks associated with offshore oil exploration drilling,” he said in a press release.

    “This proposed well is in an area where there has been little public experience with offshore drilling, and it has attracted an especially high level of concern.”

    In his letter to Mr. Kent, he added that the offshore board received more public commentary on the Old Harry well than on any project in its 26-year history. And given the site’s location in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, much of the backlash came from communities in the other Atlantic provinces, which would not share in the revenues of any oil production but could see their fisheries adversely affected by a blowout.

    A Environment Canada spokeswoman said Mr. Kent had only recently received the request and will consider it.

    In his letter to the minister, Mr. Ruelokke said that, “based on information available to date,” there is no evidence that the project “is likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects.”

    At the centre of the storm is tiny Corridor Resources, a Halifax-based junior oil company which has one producing gas well in an onshore shale-gas field in New Brunswick.

    Corridor holds all the rights to develop Old Harry, a 30-kilometre long structure that straddles the disputed line of demarcation between Quebec and Newfoundland territory. Seismic work done on Old Harry suggests the presence of significant oil and natural gas pools.

    “We feel this project could have potential for significant economic benefits for all of eastern Canada,” Corridor geophysicist Paul Durling said in an interview.

    He said the company remains confident its drilling program would pose almost no risk to the environment, and pointed to Mr. Ruelokke’s comments to that effect. “We feel a review panel is not warranted at this time,” Mr. Durling said.

    Corridor Resources has completed seismic work in the area, and filed a proposal with the board in February to drill an exploration well between mid-2012 and early 2014.

    Quebec, which has expressed concerns that Newfoundland might allow drilling in the Gulf, is undertaking its own environmental assessment of offshore oil development.

    A spokeswoman for the Quebec Ministry of Natural Resources noted that the province has imposed a moratorium on oil and gas exploration and development on its portion of Old Harry until the end of 2012.

    “We will follow the federal panel’s work if they hold public hearings. But we need more information about this panel before commenting more extensively,” Marie-France Boulay said. “In the meantime we are conducting our own environmental assessment to decide whether or not to proceed with drilling in the area.”

    In the days leading up to the March federal election call, the federal Conservative government struck a deal with Liberal Premier Jean Charest to allow Quebec to keep revenues from any oil production that occurs on its side of the line – but to refer the border issue to arbitration.

    Quebec Natural Resources Minister Nathalie Normandeau has said the Old Harry field could contain as much as two billion barrels of oil and five trillion cubic feet of natural gas, though whether there is any recoverable oil or gas won’t be known until exploration wells are drilled.

    In addition to environmentalists and fishermen, first nations communities from New Brunswick and PEI objected to the drilling plan, saying they have not been properly consulted about a development that could have an impact on their fishing rights. They noted the Newfoundland offshore board has no jurisdiction over much of the water and coastline that could be affected by a blowout.

    With files from Rhéal Séguin in Quebec.

  6. Mary Gorman | July 9, 2011 at 8:20 pm

    I just posted an article that was printed in the Globe and Mail a few weeks back about a federal public review panel that has been recommended by the Canada Newfoundland Offshore Petroleum Board to determine whether offshore drilling should proceed in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

    This recommendation has come about as a result of concerns raised by many Canadians like the Suzuki Foundation, Sierra Club of Canada, SOS Coalition, St. Lawrence Coalition etc.

    It is first step in our struggle (this time around) for a moratorium in the Gulf.

    But Environment Minister Peter Kent has yet to respond to the Board’s recommendation. Time and again, offshore oil companies have proven they are incapable of preventing, stopping or cleaning up oil spills.

    Please write or contact Peter Kent, Canada’s Environment Minister and urge him to proceed with a Gulf wide public review panel. (kent.p@parl.gc.ca)

    I urge everyone to do this. One simple phone call or letter now could prevent long term disaster down the road.


  7. Mary Gorman | July 11, 2011 at 2:14 am


    I hope everyone who hasn’t yet written to Environment Minister Peter Kent will do so. The Newfoundland Board recommended a public review.

    We have to make certain this is a Gulf wide public review. Because if there is a spill, it will spread all over our Gulf eventually due to counterclockwise currents and the fact that the Gulf of St. Lawrence only empties into the Atlantic Ocean once a year.

    Our Gulf is one of the windiest regions in North America. How would they ever clean up a spill before it spread? How much boom does Canada have? I’ve heard only a few miles. Where is the $20 billion dollar compensation fund like BP set up for those impacted in the Gulf of Mexico? Although my understanding is, much of those billions are going to lawyers and administrators.

    The reality is, if every citizen who thinks protecting the Gulf of St. Lawrence from offshore oil and gas development is a good idea, now is the time to stop it. Please make a quick call or write a brief letter to your MP and Peter Kent, asking for a Gulf wide Public review panel, we can stop this short sighted madness and save over 2,000 marine species and what Dr. David Suzuki calls, ‘one of the most precious ecosystems on our planet’. Please spread the word.

  8. Mary Gorman | July 11, 2011 at 2:35 am

    Even with miles and miles of boom, it would do nothing to prevent the spread of oil in our frequent nor’easters. Wind is a daily part of life in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

  9. Mary Gorman | July 13, 2011 at 8:29 pm

    Mayday!!! We are hearing through the grapevine that we will be getting a pathetic version of a public review panel that won’t examine long term Gulf wide impact of offshore oil and gas development on over 2,000 marine species who spawn, nurse and migrate year around in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. To prevent this, PLEASE NOW send a quick email to Canada’s Environment Minister Peter Kent (kent.p@parl.gc.ca) demanding a GULF WIDE PUBLIC REVIEW and/or a moratorium in Canada’s Gulf of St. Lawrence. Endangered blue whales will thank you!!

  10. Mary Gorman | July 13, 2011 at 11:25 pm

    The only efficient way to deal with oil spills in water is to keep the oil industry out of water. Time and again, the offshore oil industry has proven they are incapable of preventing, stopping or cleaning up oil spills before long term damage occurs. It was one thing when we didn’t know the havoc we were wreaking . Now, we do . Now it’s an ecological, ethical and moral matter .

    A broad coalition of environmentalists, First Nations, landowners, tourism operators etc are struggling in Canada to prevent offshore development in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

    HOME TO OVER 2000 MARINE SPECIES WHO SPAWN, NURSE AND MIGRATE year around. Divinely beautiful, it borders on five provincial coastlines (half of our country) .

    Six times smaller than the Gulf of Mexico, last year’s BP spill would have covered us completely!

    It is semi enclosed, with counter clockwise currents and only empties into the Atlantic once a year. It is one of the windiest regions in North America with winter ice cover. (Booms in a nor’easter? How do you clean up a spill under ice?)

    Last fall, the Canada Newfoundland Board allowed seismic to proceed while endangered blue whale were migrating. Is this the legacy we want to leave our children?

    When the BP spill happened last year, I could not sleep for a week. I felt a connection with people all over this earth, who were grieving as I was… for how shamefully our generation has protected the fundamentals of life – air, food and water for future generations.

    When the ‘Old Harry’ exploratory lease came up in our Gulf, I thought it was a no brainer. The whole world will flood to help us, I thought. After witnessing the monster BP spill, surely…

    I am dumbfounded the global environmental movement has not yet thrown support our way. We are dealing with an extremely oil friendly conservative majority government in this country and a mainstream media reliant on big oil and government advertising revenues.

    We are struggling to get the word out.

    Please help us protect Canada’s Gulf of St. Lawrence from Old Harry. Email Canada’s Environment Minister Peter Kent : kent.p@parl.gc.ca

    Demand a moratorium on offshore oil and gas development in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

    The endangered right whale, humpback whale, bluefin tuna, leatherback turtle, piping plover, harlequin duck etc … will be grateful to you. So will your grandchildren.

  11. Mary Gorman | July 14, 2011 at 2:02 pm

    The offshore oil industry likes to talk about co-existence. But how can there be co-existence if spawning, nursery and migratory areas for 2000 marine species (including many endangered) are up for grabs? If there is to be co-existence, some areas MUST be protected.

    A distinction has to be made between open waters where spills disperse that you may never hear of); and semi-enclosed Gulfs that border the coastlines of five Canadian provinces (half of our country).

    In our Gulf, there are 5 different provincial jurisdictions drawn arbitrarily on one single moving body of water, all functioning in isolation of each other. Fish don’t recognize provincial boundaries, they swim through them.

    Similar to the lack of US oversight that preceded the BP disaster, these unelected, oil friendly boards allow the oil industry to monitor their own environmental requirements. Our Federal departments of Fisheries and Environment have signed off on their legislated powers of protection through Memorandums of Understanding to these unelected Boards. In short, Canada’s offshore regulatory structure is a disaster waiting to happen.

  12. Mary Gorman | July 15, 2011 at 11:22 am


    On the National (CBC) broadcast last night, Canada’s Environment Minister announced that Polar Bears are finally being listed of special concern. On the same day that the federal government has awarded 5 drilling permits in the Arctic!!!
    See article below:
    CBC — The federal government announced the winning bids on Monday for oil and gas exploration in Canada’s north.

    The Northern Oil and Gas Directorate of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development granted five companies rights on the promise they will spend more than half a billion dollars on exploration over the next four years.

    Husky Energy was the most aggressive spender, winning the right to two parcels between Norman Wells and Tulita in the central Mackenzie Valley with a commitment of almost $380 million.

    ConocoPhillips Canada Resources pledged to investment $67 million developing one parcel while Shell Canada and Imperial Oil each bid $43 million. Shell won the rights on three parcels and Imperial, along with its parent, ExxonMobil, will develop two areas. MGM Energy committed to $5 million on three properties.

    In the Beaufort Sea, Arctic Energy & Minerals Limited successfully bid for two properties for $1 million each.

  13. Mary Gorman | July 17, 2011 at 3:41 pm

    I am enclosing an editorial in today’s New York Times about an International Scientific report on the State of Our Oceans – scroll down

    A Look Into the Ocean’s Future
    Published: July 15, 2011
    Sign In to E-Mail


    There is simply no exaggerating the importance of the oceans to earth’s overall ecological balance. Their health affects the health of all terrestrial life. A new report by an international coalition of marine scientists makes for grim reading. It concludes that the oceans are approaching irreversible, potentially catastrophic change.

    Times Topic: Oceans
    The experts, convened by the International Program on the State of the Ocean and the International Union for Conservation of Nature, found that marine “degradation is now happening at a faster rate than predicted.” The oceans have warmed and become more acidic as they absorbed human-generated carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. They are also more oxygen-deprived, because of agricultural runoff and other anthropogenic causes. This deadly trio of conditions was present in previous mass extinctions, according to the report.

    The oceans’ natural resilience has been seriously compromised. Pollution, habitat loss and overfishing are dangerous threats on their own. But when these factors converge, they can destroy marine ecosystems.

    The severity of human impact was reinforced last week when scientists concluded that seven commercially important species, including marlin, mackerel and three tuna species, were either vulnerable to extinction, endangered or critically endangered according to I.U.C.N. standards. The solutions that might help slow further degradation include immediate reduction in carbon dioxide emissions, a system of marine conservation areas and a way to protect ocean life that goes beyond national jurisdictions.

    This is the work of nations, but such goals require pressure from ordinary citizens if there is to be any hope of bringing them about in the face of opposing political and economic interests. As the new study notes, changes in the oceans, caused by carbon emissions, are perhaps “the most significant to the earth system,” particularly because they will further accelerate climate change.

  14. Mary Gorman | July 19, 2011 at 4:21 pm

    Printed in the Guardian PEI

    Protecting our gulf for future generations

    Published on July 19, 2011
    Published on July 18, 2011
    Topics : BP , First Nations , Laurentian Channel , Canada , Gulf of Mexico , Quebec

    By Mary Gorman


    The Tar Sands is not our only ecological struggle in Canada. A coalition of environmentalists, First Nations, inshore fishers, scientists, tourism operators, artists, teachers and municipalities from the Maritimes and Quebec are uniting to fight a preventive battle – to protect the Gulf of St. Lawrence from offshore oil development.

    A company has applied to drill an exploratory well in ‘Old Harry’, located in the Laurentian Channel, which is the main artery in and out of our Gulf for over 2,000 marine species who spawn, nurse and migrate year around. Dr. David Suzuki calls it “one of the most precious ecosystems on our planet”. It is divinely beautiful.

    The offshore oil industry likes to talk about co-existence and mitigation. But how can there be co-existence if spawning, nursery and migratory areas are up for grabs? The science on these 2,000 marine species is so limited, mitigation becomes just another ‘spin’ word. How does one mitigate the unknown?

    Our Gulf is six times smaller than the Gulf of Mexico. The magnitude of last year’s BP spill would have covered completely the coastlines of half the provinces in the country. With counterclockwise currents, it only empties into the Atlantic once a year. It is one of the windiest regions in North America with winter ice cover. (How do you clean up spills under ice?)

    Canada’s offshore regulatory structure is a disaster waiting to happen. Run by unelected, oil friendly provincial offshore boards, there are five different jurisdictional boundaries in our gulf, a single moving body of water. Trouble is, fish don’t recognize provincial boundaries; they swim though them. These boards allow the oil companies to monitor their own environmental requirements. Last fall, the Canada Newfoundland Board allowed seismic to proceed while endangered blue whale were migrating.

    After the BP spill last year, I couldn’t sleep for a week. I felt a connection with people all over the world who were grieving, as I was, over how shamefully we have protected the essentials of life – air, water, soil and food – for those to come. For 50 years, our oceans have been one big dumping ground of industrial effluent globally. Our oceans are more acidic now. We are disrupting the fragile ecological balance between our oceans and atmosphere that create the oxygen levels that sustain life on earth. The BP spill didn’t help. Nor is the nuclear fallout in the Japan Sea.

    Is it worth risking multi-billion dollar renewable fishery and tourism industries in Acadian, Gaelic, Mi’kmaq and Maliseet coastal communities, who have historic precedence in these waters that have sustained us for centuries?

    Do we want the Gulf of St. Lawrence to become the next Gulf of Mexico?

    Please, email Canada’s Environment Minister Peter Kent at kent.p@parl.gc.ca and demand a moratorium on offshore oil and gas development in Canada’s Gulf of St. Lawrence. The endangered blue whale will thank you. So will your grandchildren.

    Mary Gorman of Merigomish, N.S., is a member of the Save Our Seas and Shores Coalition.

  15. Mary Gorman | July 21, 2011 at 2:37 pm

    Willful blindness!? Or has Canada’s Prime Minister lost his mind?

  16. mary Gorman | July 21, 2011 at 7:51 pm

    At least one of Canada’s 300 plus MP’s cares!!


    For immediate release

    July 21, 2011

    CEAA cuts provoke outrage

    OTTAWA – The Green Party of Canada is outraged at the news that the Harper government is slashing funding to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA). The latest cut of 43.1% comes on the heels of a 6.9% cut, meaning the agency in charge of ensuring projects don’t harm Canada’s environment has now lost fully half of its funding. “Harper’s Throne Speech in June committed to improving the environmental assessment process, and instead he is driving a stake into its heart,” said Green Leader and Member of Parliament for Saanich-Gulf Islands Elizabeth May.

    “It makes absolutely no sense to be giving $1.4 billion a year in subsidies to the oil and gas industry while allotting a measly $17 million to CEAA. In what way is that protecting our environment? The priorities of the Harper government are obviously not in line with those of Canadians,” said May.

    The June 3rd Speech from the Throne stated, “Our Government is committed to developing Canada’s extraordinary resource wealth in a way that protects the environment. It will support major new clean energy projects of national or regional significance, such as the planned Lower Churchill hydroelectricity project in Atlantic Canada. It will engage the provinces, territories and industry on ways to improve the regulatory and environmental assessment process for resource projects, while ensuring meaningful consultation with affected communities, including Aboriginal communities.”

    CEAA will be reduced to one third of the number of full time staff and two entire programs will be eliminated, one on improving the regulatory framework around major projects and the other on consulting aboriginal groups.

    “At a time when we should be extremely careful to not adversely affect our biodiversity, our water, and our air quality, we are instead moving backward and hamstringing the one agency that has the environment as the top priority,” said May. “These cuts once again highlight the anti-environment ideology of the Harper government. To add to the insult, CEAA will now be incapable of consulting with aboriginal groups in a meaningful manner.”



    Kieran Green

    Director of Communications

    (613) 614-4916


  17. Mary Gorman | July 24, 2011 at 3:07 pm

    Media Release

    For Immediate Release – July 22, 2011


    New Glasgow, NS – Plans to slash the budget of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency budget to a paltry $17 million alarmed a coalition of community, fisheries, and Aboriginal groups engaged in protecting the Gulf of St. Lawrence from oil and gas.

    “These cuts are not only bad news for environmental protection in this country but also reflect an erosion of our democratic rights in Canada,” says Mary Gorman of Save Our Seas and Shores Coalition.

    “The Newfoundland offshore petroleum board has called for a federal assessment of the impacts of oil and gas on the Gulf,” says Gretchen Fitzgerald, Director of the Sierra Club Canada – Atlantic Canada Chapter, “We are alarmed these cuts indicate the Prime Minister has not taken the Board’s recommendation seriously. Meanwhile, the federal government continues to fork over billions of dollars in tax breaks to oil.”

    The Wells Commission, which examined the causes of the deaths of 17 workers in the 2009 helicopter crash in Newfoundland’s offshore, called for better environmental regulation of the offshore. Canada’s Senate Committee on Energy, Natural Resources and Environment have also stated that offshore boards like the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (C-NLOPB), may be in a conflict of interest when it comes to safety and the environment, and that their role should be reviewed.

    “Canadians created laws and processes like the environmental assessment act to evaluate risk and protect special and valuable ecosystems like the Gulf of St. Lawrence,” say Mary Gorman, head of the Save our Seas and Shores Coalition, “How can Canada possibly meet its moral obligations to prevent environmental destruction when environmental protection agencies are being gutted?”

    The Coalition is calling on Minister Kent to engage all five provinces and aboriginal leaders in a joint review panel of impacts of oil and gas in the Gulf.


  18. Mary Gorman | July 24, 2011 at 3:16 pm

    “Imagine a life without Fish” – Hey everyone, check out the award winning, powerful documentary ‘A Sea Change’ which explores the acidification of our oceans. Go to: http://www.aseachange.net

  19. Mary Gorman | July 26, 2011 at 6:53 pm

    Global warming on course to melt record amount of Arctic ice in 2011, scientists warn
    A warm spell gripping the region has melted 46,000 square miles of ice EACH DAY so far in July
    By Daily Mail Reporter

    Last updated at 3:40 PM on 21st July 2011

    Comments (124) Add to My Stories Share
    Global warming fears were heightened today as it emerged that the Arctic is facing record levels of melting ice this year.
    A warm spell gripping the region has melted a staggering 46,000 square miles of ice each day so far in July.
    The vast amount is the same area as the state of Pennsylvania being lost every day, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) in Boulder, Colorado.
    Disappearing: A satellite image taken from above Greenland shows a melting sheet of ice with limited protective cloud cover
    If the same amount of melting continues throughout July it will be the fastest rate since records began in 1979.
    ‘That’s relatively fast,’ NSIDC research scientist Julienne Stroeve told LiveScience.
    ‘Unless things change in the next few weeks, we might have a new record for July.
    ‘Certainly overall, we think the ice is thinner overall leading up to this season than it was in 2007.’
    More…Stop hiding green fuel tax, firms told as pressure to come clean on global warming levies intensifies
    Climate change sceptics should get less BBC coverage and be challenged ‘more vigorously’, says report on science output
    Polar bear cubs dying as climate change melts Arctic and forces them on long swims

    On July 17 this year, sea ice covered 2.92million square miles of the Arctic Ocean.
    The amount of ice cover is currently 865,000 square miles below the 1979 to 2000 average. The previous fastest rate of melting ice was in 2007.
    Researchers said that the melting and re-freezing of Arctic sea ice takes place with varying intensity each year.
    In Autumn as Northern Hemisphere temperatures drop, ice extends outward away from the land to cover vast expanses of the ocean.
    Iceberg: A warm spell has caused some 46,000 square miles of ice to melt into the Arctic sea every day, claim scientists
    But in Spring as warmer weather arrived the ice begins to melt. Each year the actual amount of ice that re-forms in the Autumn has declined steadily.
    Researchers discovered that this year the ice began to melt between two weeks and two months earlier than usual, signalling a greater overall amount of melting ice for the entire year.
    The measurements took place in the Chukchi Sea, near Alaska, the Barents, Kara and Laptev Seas, near Finland and Russia.
    It is believed that the melting ice has been caused by warm spells sweeping across the Northern Hemisphere.
    Forecasters have recorded high pressure over the Beaufort Sea, north of Alaska, since June, which has brought warmer temperatures to the entire Arctic.
    The high pressure has seen temperatures at the North Pole to reach 6C to 8C (11F to 14F) hotter than average.
    Stroeve said that clearer skies over the Arctic have also allowed the sun’s rays to bake the sheets of ice which are usually protected by thick cloud cover.
    The ice expert added that cooler temperatures for the rest of July could decrease the rate at which the ice is melting.
    ‘It’s too early to say we’re going to have a new record low but I would say it’s certainly possible with the way things have been going,’ he added.
    Explore more:Places: Finland, Russia Print this article Read later

    Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2017248/Global-warming-course-melt-record-Arctic-ice-2011-scientists-warn.html#ixzz1TEsJYehs

  20. mary Gorman | August 4, 2011 at 2:05 pm

    This is absolutely outrageous!! HOW do we WAKE UP the Canadian people?

    For Immediate Release
    August 3, 2011

    Deep cuts at Environment Canada

    OTTAWA – The Green Party of Canada has learned of deep cuts at Environment Canada, with nearly 800 people being let go. Over 200 are professionals — scientists, chemists, meteorologists, engineers—leading to questions of how Environment Canada can fulfil its mandate with such a loss in personnel.

    The Green Party finds it unacceptable that the government is downplaying these cuts by saying that some staff may be kept on as indeterminate staff.

    “What sense does it make to lay off people whose skill and expertise is so critical if they will be kept on under other conditions? Why would we risk losing highly trained professionals?” asked Green Leader Elizabeth May.

    “We are worried that cuts are also impacting other departments. The total impact of this round of layoffs should include parliamentary oversight,” said May.

    “At the very least, the Harper government owes the public clear explanations of how the core activity of Environment Canada will not be harmed by these layoffs. What is the timeline and what areas of the department will be affected? How will we ensure that critical roles are not left vacant? There are too many questions and no good answers regarding this slashing of a critical government department,” said May.

    The mandate of Environment Canada is to protect and conserve Canada’s natural environment and renewable resources and also includes weather-related research and forecasting. The department is also tasked with enforcing environmental policies and regulations around water and biodiversity.

    The Environment Canada website says, “Our diverse expertise strengthens our ability to deal with increasingly complex and changing environmental issues.” The Green Party asks how this latest round of job cuts will affect this ability.


    Kieran Green
    Director of Communications


    Pour diffusion immédiate

    3 août 2011

    Coupures sauvages à Environnement Canada

    Le Parti vert du Canada a appris aujourd’hui qu’Environnement Canada procédait à des compressions sauvages au sein du ministère avec l’élimination de près de 800 postes, dont plus de 200 postes de professionnels – scientifiques, chimistes, météorologues et ingénieurs –, ce qui soulève de sérieuses questions quant à la capacité d’Environnement Canada d’exécuter son mandat avec la perte d’une grande partie de ses effectifs.

    Le Parti vert trouve carrément inacceptable que le gouvernement minimise la gravité de telles compressions en prétextant qu’une partie des effectifs seront maintenus en postes à titre d’employés nommés pour une durée indéterminée.

    « À quoi cela peut-il bien servir de licencier des gens, dont les compétences et l’expertise sont vitales, si on les garde sous d’autres conditions? Pourquoi prendre le risque de perdre des professionnels aussi hautement qualifiés? », a demandé la chef des verts Elizabeth May.

    « Nous craignons que ces compressions affectent d’autres ministères. Cette nouvelle série de mises à pied devrait faire l’objet d’un suivi parlementaire », a ajouté May.

    « Le gouvernement Harper doit au minimum donner des explications à la population sur la façon dont il compte s’assurer que ces mises à pied ne nuiront pas aux activités d’Environnement Canada. Quel est le calendrier des mises à pied et quels secteurs ministériels seront touchés par les compressions? Comment ferons-nous pour nous assurer que des postes clés ne sont pas laissés vacants? Les questions sont nombreuses, et rien ne peut justifier sabrer aussi sauvagement dans un ministère fédéral aussi important », a dénoncé May.

    Le mandat d’Environnement Canada est de protéger et de conserver l’environnement naturel et les ressources renouvelables du Canada, et cela inclus notamment la recherche relative à la météorologie et les prévisions météorologiques. Le Ministère est également chargé de la mise en œuvre des politiques environnementales et de l’application des règlements entourant l’eau et la biodiversité.

    Sur le site Web d’Environnement Canada, il est inscrit : « L’expertise diversifiée de nos employés renforce notre capacité de traiter des enjeux environnementaux complexes et en constante évolution. » Le Parti vert veut savoir comment cette dernière série de compressions et de mises à pied affectera cette capacité.


    Renseignements :

    Kieran Green

    Directeur des communications

    Parti vert du Canada



  21. mary gorman | August 9, 2011 at 2:21 pm

    BP Protest in the Gulf; The Oil’s Not Gone
    Print this page
    Posted August 5, 2011 in Curbing Pollution, Environmental Justice, Health and the Environment, Living Sustainably, Moving Beyond Oil

    Tags:bp, disaster, gulfspill, oil, pollution
    Share | | | Exactly a year ago, former White House energy advisor Carol Browner informed the world that 75% of the oil from the worst oil disaster in history had been cleaned up, evaporated and dispersed or burned off. “Mother Nature did her part,” Browner told the world.

    Don’t tell that to Cherri Foytlin, the oil worker’s wife and mother of six who walked from the Gulf to Washington for the one-year memorial of the BP blowout last April. The media has been largely silent since then, so Cherri and others decided they needed to remind people that “the oil is not gone.”

    Yesterday, protesters staged a protest at BP’s gleaming downtown New Orleans offices, where they dumped a batch of black gooey tar balls freshly hauled in from the beaches of Mississippi. After sitting in front of the BP’s office building doorway for three hours as police tried to convince them to move, Cherri and two other protesters were arrested and booked for trespass later in the evening. But they had made their point.

    “The oil’s still here and so are we,” Cherri shouted into a megaphone in front of BP’s offices. “They’ve told us we can’t cross this line or we’ll be arrested. Well they crossed the line a long time ago when 11 men died and they sprayed poisons into our water and made cleanup workers sick. Now fishermen can’t put food on the table and people are still sick. We’ve had enough. It’s time for us to cross the line now.”

    Cherri Foytlin questioned by police officers at BP protest

    Photos: Rocky Kistner/NRDC

    Many who attended the protest say they continue to see oily tar balls invade their shores, impacting the wildlife and beauty of their coastlines. Leanne Sarco says she spent the past year as a a naturalist in Grand Isle State Park, where tar balls still roll in along with dead fish and crabs. “They haven’t cleaned it up, they’ve just buried it. Entire communities are at the breaking point.”

    Charles Taylor of Bay St Louis, Mississippi says he’s been unable to work since the oil disaster began and that he memory still suffers headaches and memory disorders. “We continue to see all kinds of weird stuff wash up, tar balls and dead fish of all kinds. Everytime I get close to the beach I feel worse.”

    There are many others like him across the gulf, living with the aftermath of the country’s worst oil disaster. As fishermen and gulf residents struggle with declining fish catches, a lousy seafood market and continuing battles with BP claims administrator Ken Feinberg, no one knows when it will end.

    Cherri and her fellow protesters know the oil’s not gone. They know residents in the Gulf continue to suffer. Their job, they say, is to make sure people don’t forget.

    permalinkcomments (3)trackbacks 0
    Share | | | Comments (Add yours)
    Paul Burke — Aug 5 2011 01:12 PM
    Come on down to New Orleans yall and see. the damage the LIARS and TRAITORS have done for their rotten off the Earth agenda in which we have been sold down the drain.

    Go ask Phil Schneider U.S. Army Corp of Engineers how youn treat your fellowman. (WW II Purple Heart/KIA)

    Angry Bird — Aug 6 2011 05:44 PM
    Check out the writing by the local grassroots periodical The Raging Pelican on the insanity that BP has wrought on our communities:

    Jackie Eco — Aug 8 2011 11:56 PM
    So sorry to hear this, however, not entirely surprised… Clean (green) energy & jobs – NOW!!!

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  22. mary gorman | August 9, 2011 at 4:17 pm

    It is mind boggling to me that the coastal communities of half the provinces in Canada are being held hostage to accomodate the ambitions of one tiny Halifax based oil company. Our politicians do not represent the common good or public interest of this nation. Thousands of us stand to lose everything we have worked for our entire lives to create one, maybe two millionaires? It is beyond disgraceful!

  23. Mary Gorman | August 22, 2011 at 2:21 pm

    Condolences to Olivia Chow and our nations’ entire NDP family. Layton’s death leaves us without an opposition leader. Harper’s government protects corporations, not people. What will we, the people, do now?!

  24. Mary Gorman | September 3, 2011 at 5:23 pm

    Opponents of drilling in gulf say review denies public input

    Published on September 2, 2011
    Published on September 2, 2011
    The News Topics : Corridor Resources Inc. , Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board , Seas Coalition , NEW GLASGOW , Iles-de-la-Madeleine , Canada NEW GLASGOW –

    A coalition against drilling projects in the Gulf of St. Lawrence says the right man has been appointed to the wrong job when it comes to reviewing a company’s proposal to drill in the Old Harry oil field.

    Mary Gorman of the Save Our Seas Coalition said Bernard Richard is capable of conducting an independent review of Corridor Resources Inc. proposal to drill in the Gulf of St. Lawrence field, but she said the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board has limited his scope.

    “They’ve given us a good man, but they have tied his hands and feet and made the entire process incomplete,” she said. “The problem is the Canada Offshore Regulatory structure was created without consultation from the Canadian people.”

    Gorman said five provinces will be affected if something goes awry during the drilling of Old Harry, but input from these provinces and its residents is limited.

    “The Gulf of St. Lawrence can’t be cut up like a fish cake,” she said. “What we have is an oil-friendly, non-effective provincial board in a conflict of interest as a promoter of development and a protector of the environment.”

    The Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board said an independent review will focus on the potential environmental effects of the proposed drilling of a single exploration well in the Old Harry. Public consultations will be held in the five jurisdictions bounded by the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

    Richard will present a report to the board at the conclusion of the independent review, which will also be made public by the board.

    Corridor Resources plans for the Old Harry site, near the Iles-de-la-Madeleine, have angered environmental groups who say drilling should not be allowed in a sensitive marine area.

    Meanwhile, the federal New Democrat Party has said it is concerned about the Conservative government’s refusal to allow proper environmental assessment of the Old Harry.

    “While the Harper Conservatives continue to claim that oil drilling regulations in Canada are among the strongest in the world, this is not the case. New Democrats have discovered that Canadian oil drilling regulatory practices are less stringent than those in the United States,” said Nycole Turmel, interim leader of the federal NDP.

  25. Mary Gorman | September 27, 2011 at 3:22 pm

    Canada’s national media has been ignoring our struggle against unnecessary fossil fuel development on our East Coast. Obviously unnecessary, since even Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver concedes an ‘excess’ of supply is coming out of the Tar Sands. A coalition of fishermen, First Nations, environmentalists, scientists, teachers etc have been struggling for over a year to have our voices heard in an effort to protect Canada’s Gulf of St. Lawrence, home to over 2,000 marine species, from offshore oil and gas development.

    With the nuclear fallout in the Japan Sea and the ongoing Gulf of Mexico crisis, it seems that more and more of our earth’s natural renewable marine food supply is in peril. According to DFO scientists, ‘over one million ton of fish migrate through the Gulf of St. Lawrence annually’. Does anyone with any common sense honestly believe this is sustainable without identifying and protecting this sensitive marine breeding ground that is our Gulf?

    It is incomprehensible to me that at a point in history when scientists, from all over the world, are warning us to ease up on fossil fuels, to give Mother Nature a chance to heal, that in NL, NS and all of Canada, we are full throttle ahead with fossil fuel development.

    What right does our generation have to suck every last drop of fossil fuels out of this earth? These precious nonrenewable fuels may well be needed by future generations.

    And to Mr. Harper’s government who called climate change protesters ‘extremists’ in the House of Commons, let me assure you, the extremists are those in denial of climate change, wilfully blinded by greed.

    Mother Nature doesn’t give one hoot whether or not you believe in climate change. She will rebalance this earth from the rapacious ‘excesses’ of the industrial revolution. Mother Nature will have the final word on this battle.

  26. Mary Gorman | October 17, 2011 at 2:42 pm

    Well, it was quite an experience to meet the Green Heroes team, Joan and Elisa, such powerful and professional colleagues when they came down to Nova Scotia to shoot the documentary about protecting Canada’s Gulf of St. Lawrence.

    We had a great time, the highlight, of course, meeting Canadian icon, author and longtime conservationist Farley Mowat. Brilliant, generous human being that he is!! Working with Joan and Elisa was an amazing learning experience for me. I was so impressed with the professionalism conveyed by them. Elisa is an amazing cinematographer who works tirelessly and calmly under pressure with good humour. Being an ‘amateur’ on camera, I was so fortunate to have Joan and Elisa to work with. They know how to make those of us uncomfortable with a camera in our faces, feel comfortable, safe and natural.

    Kudos to Green Heroes team of consummate professionals!!

  27. Mary Gorman | October 17, 2011 at 2:45 pm



    March for the protection of the Gulf :
    First Nations and Non-Natives will gather in Gesgapegiag
    to ask for a moratorium on oil and gas development
    in all of the Gulf of St. Lawrence

    Magdalen Islands, October 13 2011 – The St. Lawrence Coalition and the Gesgapegiag Mi’gmaq First Nation invite all concerned by the protection of the Gulf to join for a peaceful march asking for a moratorium on oil and gas exploration and exploitation in all of the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

    The 2 km march will be held Saturday October 22 starting at 14h (2 PM). It will be held in the Gesgapegiag reserve, host of the event. Accompanied by traditionnal music, all communities of the Gulf of St. Lawrence are invited to come and participate, in an atmosphere of peace and friendship.

    Mr. Quentin Condo, initiator of the event and councilor in Gesgapegiag, reminds us that these important issues must unite all Gulf communities: “In a united and responsible way, all Nations must seek to protect the interests of all people who share this Earth.” Many First Nations, such as the Gesgapegiag Mi’gmaq First Nation, offer their support for the demand of a moratorium.

    The St. Lawrence Coalition asks that all communities around the Gulf work in concertation and be consulted on these important issues. “We must work in concertation with all users of the Gulf. We are collectively responsible for the choices we make for the future of the Gulf.” says Danielle Giroux, spokesperson of the St. Lawrence Coalition.

    The Québec Government is currectly conducting a public “consultation” related to the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) of the hydrocarbon file in the Gulf until December 2nd 2011. Many people are starting to question if it is a real consultation because comments on the lifting or not of the current offshore oil and gas moratorium will not be allowed.

    Mrs. Giroux, president of Attention FragÎles and spokesperson of the St. Lawrence Coalition fears that the decision to lift the moratorium will ultimately be taken by the Government without consultations. “We ask that the Québec Government holds true public consultations, at the end of the SEA process, on the lifting or not of the moratorium. We also ask that a real process of interprovincial concertation be initiated since Newfoundland is set to authorize a first drilling project in the heart of the Gulf as early as 2012. This demand has been made for a long time by many groups and nothing is happening. We have to stop fragmenting the Gulf in sectors with artificial boundaries. We absolutely need to see the Gulf as one”.

    The march for the protection of the Gulf illustrates the desire and the capacity to work collectively for the protection of this unique treasure that is the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

    The poster announcing the event can be downloaded here.

    – 30 –

    The St. Lawrence Coalition includes 65 organizations and associations from various economic sectors and over 3000 individuals. Members of the Coalition are calling for a moratorium on exploration and exploitation of oil and gas across the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

    Sources :

    Quentin Condo
    Councilor, Gesgapegiag
    418-392-1473 cell / 418-759-3441 office/ quentincondo@hotmail.com

    Danielle Giroux
    Spokesperson for the St. Lawrence Coalition (french interviews)
    President, Attention FragÎles
    418-986-6644 / coalitionstlaurent@me.com

    Manon Dubois, Communications specialist
    David Suzuki Foundation
    514-583-8455 / mdubois@davidsuzuki.org

    Christian Simard, Director general
    Nature Québec
    418-648-2104 x2071 / direction@naturequebec.org

    Sylvain Archambault, Protected areas and land use coordinator
    CPAWS Québec chapter
    418-686-1854 / sarchambault@snapqc.org

  28. Mary Gorman | November 18, 2011 at 10:25 pm

    Lapointe: “Outrageous’ request by oil companies
    OTTAWA — The provincial auditor general called it an “outrageous” request, but the federal auditor general agreed to give oil companies vetting rights before doing a recent audit.

    The two philosophies came to a head when Nova Scotia auditor general Jacques Lapointe pulled the plug on his half of a joint provincial-federal audit of the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board, which regulates offshore activity.

    The federal office went ahead as normal.

    Lapointe objected to essentially being forced to sign a confidentiality agreement. According to a report released Wednesday, oil companies ExxonMobil and Encana wanted the right to ban the publication of any documents they had filed with the board that they viewed as confidential.

    The federal department, under interim auditor general John Wiersema, signed the agreement, Lapointe confirmed.

    In an interview with The Chronicle Herald, Lapointe said he has never been asked to sign such a contract and admitted he was surprised the federal office agreed.

    Lapointe said auditors general routinely audit sensitive information such as payroll records and health files, and they are always careful to respect privacy rights.

    “The point is the decision of what to disclose is ours. What they wanted me to do was sign an effective blank cheque.

    “They wanted me to agree, in writing, to let them, in effect, vet my report before I saw the audit. I couldn’t agree to that. And, in fact, they don’t have the right to ask me that, legally.”

    Although Lapointe characterized the request as outrageous, he noted the federal auditors are focusing more on environmental issues and thus the disclosure agreement may not be a factor for their audit.

    A federal spokesman declined to speak about the disagreement between Lapointe and the board. Ghislain Desjardins, spokesman for the federal auditor general, said he was not aware of an advance contract signed with the oil companies.

    Desjardins said the federal policy is not to disclose any third-party information that would not be available under access-to-information laws, and the board audit is no different.

    “We have received full and unrestricted access to documentation, as we would normally do with any reports. And like any other audits, we do not disclose privileged information, and we do not comment on what we are examining until results are reported to Parliament.

    “We have approached this audit in exactly the same way we begin any audit.”

    Federal auditors typically make a formal written request for confidential information, although under the federal Auditor General Act the audited party does not have a right to refuse this request. Instead, the audited party will sometimes sign an agreement that it is complying with the audit but does not waive its confidentiality privileges.

    Desjardins did not say whether vetting agreements had been signed in the past.

    Lapointe claims the agreement is in contravention of the provincial Auditor General Act and is asking the province to intervene.

  29. Mary Gorman | November 19, 2011 at 12:00 am

    AG says offshore industry denied him information
    CBC News Posted: Nov 16, 2011 4:59 PM AT Last Updated: Nov 16, 2011 6:14 PM AT Read 20 comments20
    Nova Scotia’s Auditor General Jacques Lapointe said the oil industry refused to give him documents. (CBC) Facebook




    Nova Scotia’s auditor general is in a major dispute with the agency that regulates the offshore oil industry in Nova Scotia.

    Jacques Lapointe said the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum board is denying him access to information because the oil companies it regulates don’t want the information made public.

    The offshore petroleum board is a joint federal-provincial agency that regulates the offshore oil industry in Nova Scotia, everything from protecting the environment to worker safety.

    The auditor general wanted to see if the board was doing its job, but he ran into a major roadblock.

    The two oil companies operating offshore — ExxonMobil Canada and EnCana Corp. — wanted Lapointe to promise not to publicly release any of the documents they’ve given to the board.

    When the auditor general said no, the petroleum board refused to turn over that information.

    Lapointe said Wednesday that he believes the board is contravening the law, and he simply could not agree to those conditions.

    If he agreed to the conditions, Lapointe said his office would have surrendered its ability to inform the public about matters it has “every right to know.”

    As a result, he said he is unable to say whether the board is ensuring that offshore work is being done safely and in an environmentally responsible manner.

    Lapointe said he could not go ahead and do an audit without the co-operation of the board.

    “If we did conduct an audit and a dispute later arose between our office and an operator about disclosure, the matter could only be resolved in the courts,” he said.

    “Given that ExxonMobil’s annual earnings are more than three times the entire budget of Nova Scotia, it would be folly to engage them in a prolonged legal battle.”

    But the board said Lapointe’s report is unfair and contains a number of incorrect assertions.

    In a statement, the board said it co-operated with Lapointe’s office as much as it could under federal and provincial laws.

    Newfoundland and Labrador’s auditor general issued a similar complaint this past summer.

    With files from the Canadian Press

  30. Mary Gorman | November 26, 2011 at 1:48 pm

    November 23, 2011 – The battle to protect the Gulf of St. Lawrence from oil and gas development received a major boost this week when American actor, writer and director Ethan Hawke benevolently lent his support to the cause. Mr. Hawke, a landowner along the Gulf in Nova Scotia, was approached by coastal landowners, fishermen, Mi’kmaq leaders and concerned citizens who felt their voices were not being heard. Mr. Hawke joins a growing list of celebrities including Dr. David Suzuki, author Farley Mowat, actor and director Jason Priestley, and music composer Philip Glass who have also spoken out in support of a moratorium on offshore oil and gas development in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
    “The Gulf of St. Lawrence is truly unique in its beauty, culture and biodiversity; I feel it is important to support my east coast neighbours in their demand for a moratorium,” explains Mr. Hawke. “We should take every measure possible to avoid making the same mistakes that were made with the Gulf of Mexico and preserve these precious renewable marine resources for future generations. The time has come to take action on this important issue before it is too late.”
    The David Suzuki Foundation, in collaboration with Save Our Seas and Shores Coalition and with the support of Mr. Hawke, is asking Canadian citizens to take action by demanding a moratorium on offshore oil and gas drilling in the Gulf.
    “Thousands of First Nations, Quebecois, Acadian and Gaelic coastal communities have historic precedence in these waters and have great interest in wanting to protect the Gulf’s multi-billion dollar renewable fishery and tourism industries,” affirms Mary Gorman, spokesperson for Save our Seas and Shores Coalition. “It would be foolish to consider risking a renewable global marine food supply that has sustained us for centuries, only to exploit unnecessary fossil fuels.”
    Both Quebec and Newfoundland are currently exploring the possibility of drilling oil and gas in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The province of Quebec, now under provincial moratorium, is in the process of conducting public consultations to assess the risk factors involved with oil and gas exploitation in the Gulf. The situation in Newfoundland has become increasingly alarming, with the province currently poised to move forward with an exploratory drilling at the controversial Old Harry prospect, located only 6km from Quebec’s jurisdiction, as early as next year. Similar attempts made by Nova Scotia to exploit the Gulf were halted a decade ago.
    “The Gulf of St. Lawrence is a single body of water that should not be divided by man-made borders,” states Dr. Jean-Patrick Toussaint of the David Suzuki Foundation. “The Gulf is home to more than 2,200 marine species which spawn, nurse and migrate there year-round. Exploratory drilling could seriously impact the feeding and migration of fish like Atlantic salmon, herring, mackerel and cod as well as marine mammals like the endangered blue whale.”
    Earlier this summer, numerous coastal communities and environmental groups asked federal Minister of the Environment Peter Kent to take leadership in overseeing the environmental implications and risks of permitting oil and gas drilling in the Gulf. However, the federal government ultimately delegated this responsibility to an unelected offshore provincial petroleum board.
    “We are delighted and grateful to have Ethan Hawke graciously accept to support the battle to protect our Gulf,” adds Ms. Gorman. “We hope that his public support will help draw greater attention to an issue that could potentially impact the coastlines and economy of all five provinces bordering the Gulf, and which requires critical action.”
    Concerned individuals and groups can sign the petition to demand a moratorium on oil and gas drilling in the Gulf of St. Lawrence by visiting the David Suzuki website: http://action.davidsuzuki.org/st-lawrence
    – 30 –

  31. Mary Gorman | January 24, 2012 at 4:11 pm

    Big breakthrough, my friends!! The oil company trying to drill in our precious Gulf of St. Lawrence has filed a ‘Prohibition Order to prohibit themselves from drilling in our Gulf!! This struggle is not over for us yet but it does delay this madness, and gives us a reprieve and opportunity to organize even more to stop this irresponsible, reckless notion of fouling up the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Amazing that we have been able to achieve this! It show us all that if people will voice their concerns and speak out to their governments, sometimes, miracles happen. See article below!!

    “Corridor Resources Inc. is the interest owner in exploration licence area 1105 (known as Old Harry). The company has approached the regulator and stated its intention to await the results of the strategic assessment before it proceeds with its Old Harry project.
    In order to put a pin in the project without penalty, Corridor has requested the issuance of a “prohibition order” on its own project.
    Such a stop-work order is typically reserved for “the case of an environmental or social problem of a serious nature,” according to the CNLOPB and is considered a fundamental decision under the Atlantic Accord legislation.
    The question of whether or not the order will be approved lies with the provincial and federal governments.
    If approved, the order will mean Corridor Resources would be legally prevented from any work or activity at exploration licence area 1105 until the board completes its strategic environmental assessment work and the order is revisited.”

  32. MARY GORMAN | January 31, 2012 at 11:10 pm


    Old Harry : private interest prevails over public interest
    St. Lawrence Coalition condemns the special treatment given to Corridor Resources

    Magdalen Islands, January 26 2012 – While St. Lawrence Coalition and numerous groups around the Gulf of St. Lawrence are asking unsuccessfully for a moratorium on oil activity in all of the Gulf, including the Old Harry project, Corridor Resources is obtaining special privileges from the federal and Newfoundland governments.

    St. Lawrence Coalition finds unacceptable the 2-year delay given quietly to Corridor Resources on Nov. 23rd 2011. Corridor Resources now has until Jan. 15th 2015 to start drilling its controversial well at Old Harry, an amendment to the licence that was approved by federal minister of Natural Resources, Mr. Joe Oliver and his counterpart in Newfoundland, Mr. Joseph Kennedy. At the start, the company was required to start drilling before Jan. 15th 2013 or else it would loose its licence. Fearing that environmental assessment processes would prevent them from doing so, Corridor asked for a delay in the deadline… and its request was answered.

    “According to its licence, Corridor could have obtained a one-year delay in its requirement to drill by posting a one million dollar guarantee deposit. The company sidestepped this clause in its licence with the approval of federal and provincial ministers of Natural Resources, and without the Canada-Newfoundland-and-Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (The Board) ever informing the public” declares Danielle Giroux, president of Attention FragÎles and spokesperson for St. Lawrence Coalition.

    Despite this 2-year delay, Corridor Resources still fears not being able to start drilling by the Jan 15th 2015 deadline. To avoid loosing its licence, the company is asking the government for a new delay. This time the company wants a temporary suspension of its licence, in order to stop the clock ticking while the Board completes a scheduled strategic environmental assessment (SEA) in Newfoundland’s part of the Gulf. As he declared in a recent interview, the president of Corridor fears that this SEA will prevent him from drilling in due time.

    The goal of a strategic environmental assessment (SEA) is to furnish a global vision first, and lead the way to eventual project environmental assessments such as Old Harry. But the Board is now conducting both assessments at the same time, an illogical situation. The St. Lawrence Coalition condemns this way of proceeding and thinks that project related environmental assessments should only start after strategic environmental assessments are completed.

    “The Gulf of St. Lawrence is a unique and fragile ecosystem that deserves adequate protection with a global and integrated vision. The multiplication of regional environmental assessments, here and there, SEA in Quebec, SEA in Newfoundland, Old Harry project assessment, only creates confusion by fragmenting the Gulf and avoiding global issues. We think that only a federal Review Panel, refused by minister of Environment Peter Kent last August, together with a moratorium on the totality of the Gulf could furnish the integrated vision that is cruelly lacking these days.” explains Karel Mayrand, director general for Québec of the David Suzuki Foundation.

    “In the end, what is more important? The private interest of Corridor Resources, or the public interest, especially the interests of the Gulf communities that depend on the Gulf’s health for their wellbeing?” asks Sylvain Archambault, biologist at CPAWS Québec.

    – 30 –

    The St. Lawrence Coalition is composed of 65 organizations and associations, including First Nations, and over 3500 individuals from various economic sectors and the 5 coastal provinces. Members of the Coalition are calling for a moratorium on exploration and exploitation of oil and gas across the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

    Sources :
    Danielle Giroux
    Spokesperson for the St. Lawrence Coalition (french interviews)
    President, Attention FragÎles
    418-986-6644 / coalitionstlaurent@me.com

    Manon Dubois, Communications specialist
    David Suzuki Foundation
    514-583-8455 / mdubois@davidsuzuki.org

    Christian Simard, Director general
    Nature Québec
    418-931-1131 / direction@naturequebec.org

    Sylvain Archambault, Protected areas and land use coordinator
    CPAWS Québec chapter
    418-686-1854 / sarchambault@snapqc.org

  33. Mary Gorman | February 4, 2012 at 6:22 pm

    My face book comment about Quebec,s Minister of Sustainable Development, Environment and Parks saying that he refuses to place a moratorium in the Gulf of St. Lawrence for the moment because some people are in favour of development.

    ” He’s the Minister of SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT and ENVIRONMENT and he REFUSES to place a moratorium in the sensitive spawning, nursery and migratory waters for over 2,000 species that IS our Gulf of St. Lawrence?!?!? This is the problem we are facing in Canada – elected and bureaucratic government officials who have abandoned their mandate. Monsieur Arcand’s mandate is to PROTECT the environment and ensure that any development is sustainable. Oil, by its nature, is not renewable and therefore not sustainable. Extracting it in the breeding grounds of renewable and sustainable species is irresponsible, reckless and a premeditated crime against nature. The entire world knows that the offshore oil industry is incapable of preventing, stopping or cleaning up spills before it’s too late. Minister Arcand should resign or be thrown out!!!!!”

  34. mary gorman | March 13, 2012 at 4:49 pm

    Media Release

    For Immediate Release: March 13, 2012

    Coalition Criticizes Minister Oliver’s ‘Waffling’ on Independent Safety Regulators for Canada’s Offshore

    A Coalition of fishermen, First Nations, environmentalists and coastal landowners are rallying against Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver’s recent ‘waffling’ on the need for a separate, independent safety regulator for NL’s offshore petroleum industry. The coalition is responding to recent comments made in NL by Federal Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver who stated he is questioning whether an independent safety regulator is needed.

    “Retired Judge Robert Wells’s inquiry into the deaths of 17 offshore workers in the 2009 Cougar helicopter crash recommended a separate, independent safety regulator for NL’s offshore industry. What was the point of this Inquiry if the federal government is going to ignore Justice Wells’ vital recommendations?” says Gretchen Fitzgerald, executive director of Sierra Club – Atlantic Chapter.

    “It is disgraceful that Minister Oliver is hedging on this vital issue of safety, not only for Canadian offshore workers, but also for the safety of our east coast fishery, renewable marine resources and the ecosystems that support them,” says Dr. Irene Novaczek of UPEI. “After the BP disaster, the U.S. government set up a separate safety regulator for American offshore waters. Why is Canada stalling on this vital safety measure?” she says.

    “Twenty years after the Exxon Valdez disaster, there is still no herring fishery in Prince William Sound, where the spill occured,” says Greg Egilsson, an inshore fishermen and president of the Gulf NS Herring Federation. “Fishermen are concerned a similar fate could await our east coast fishing industry, if the federal government persists in refusing to exercise its responsibility to protect the safety of east coast offshore workers, fishermen and marine ecosystems,” says Egilsson.

    “A pattern of unfairness and disrespect for the importance of Canada’s east coast fishery and the tens of thousands of renewable jobs it creates, prevails in our federal government as it persistently favours transnational oil companies,” says Mary Gorman of Save Our Seas and Shores, a coalition set up to prevent offshore oil development in Canada’s Gulf of St. Lawrence, where over 2,000 marine species spawn, nurse and migrate year around.

    The Coalition points to the federal government’s refusal to launch a Federal Review Panel under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency to examine whether exploration should proceed in Canada’s Gulf as evidence of a bias for offshore oil companies. A Senate report commissioned after the BP spill has also recommended examining the “possible” conflict of interest position for offshore boards when it comes to regulating safety and the environment.

    The Coalition stands united with Justice Wells’ recommendation for a separate, independent safety regulator for NL’s offshore and states the NS government should also be implementing a separate safety regulator for its offshore development. Additionally, federal power environment and fishery protection should be restored to federal government and not handed off to offshore boards.


    For further information, contact:

    Gretchen Fitzgerald, Sierra Club Canada – Atlantic Canada Chapter

    Mary Gorman, Save Our Seas and Shores Coalition

    Greg Egilsson, Gulf-NS Herring Federation

    Dr. Irene Novaczek, University of PEI

  35. mary gorman | April 5, 2012 at 2:20 pm

    Canada’s 2012 federal budget may well go down in history as the most anti- environment budget the Cdn government has ever created.

    Not only have our federal environmental protections been gutted, scientists fired, environmental processes deleted, the federal government is even targeting non profit charities in an attempt to silence their concerns over unfettered industrial development in Canada. Our Gulf of St. Lawrence even made it in our federal budget. See below:

    ‎”A positive area of cooperation between the federal government and
    provinces was the conclusion in 2011 of the Canada-Quebec Accord for the
    shared management of offshore petroleum resources. By clarifying the roles
    and responsibilities of each level of government, this Accord will allow for
    the development of oil and gas resources in the Gulf of St. Lawrence,
    creating jobs and economic development while protecting fisheries and
    the environment.” p 91 of the Harper Conservatives 2012 Budget (i refuse to call it canada’s Budget) http://www.budget.gc.ca/2012/plan/pdf/Plan2012-eng.pdf



  36. Mary Gorman | May 10, 2012 at 11:14 pm

    I am posting a letter of concern I sent today to the Chairman of the Canada Newfoundland Offshore Petroleum Board(CNLOPB) regarding the Strategic Environmental Assessment(SEA) they are conducting about offshore oil and gas development in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

    ATT: CNLOPB SEA Process

    Dear Mr. Ruelokke,

    We would like to comment on the SEA process CNLOPB is currently embarking upon regarding Corridor Resources proposed drilling application at Old Harry in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
    First, may we say in the interests of transparency and accountability, it is incumbent that the public consultations for this SEA do NOT take place before the 2012 Gulf of St. Lawrence commercial fisheries are complete. It would be pure folly on behalf of the CNLOPB to host public meetings while fishermen are fishing and thus, unable to attend. Unlike the FFAW, many Gulf fishing groups do not have fulltime staff employed. Their executives are fulltime fishermen who earn their income from May – Dec each year, when Mother Nature allows them to do so.
    Other points we wish to raise with the CNLOPB are:
    1) We do not consider your current process of public consultation to be complete. Meetings should take place in ALL regions of the Gulf of St. Lawrence. As a coastal landowner, my family and I have grave concerns over this proposed development. As our financial worth is primarily tied up in our property, we DO NOT WANT our land to become worthless, because of oil on our shores. As there are thousands of landowners throughout the Gulf like ourselves, it is CNLOPB’s responsibility to ensure all concerned stakeholders in the Gulf of St. Lawrence have a say.

    2) We consider this proposed offshore development in an inland sea with counterclockwise currents that only empty into the Atlantic Ocean once a year to be too risky to proceed. The Gulf of St. Lawrence is the second windiest region in North America. How does the Board plan to clean up a spill under these circumstances? With 6”inch boom? If clean up efforts are not successful, given the strong tides and currents within our Gulf, oil could be splashing on the coastlines of half of the provinces in Canada over the course of a year. Is this really a risk worth taking?

    3) We take serious issue with the CNLOPB’s apparent position that the Laurentian Channel and ‘Old Harry’ is not a sensitive marine area – an erroneous position the CNLOPB solidified by allowing seismic to proceed in Oct 2010, when endangered blue whale were migrating through this critical habitat. While we recognize that the CNLOPB is making effort to increase transparency and legitimacy, it is difficult to accept the Board has the public interest at heart, after such a grave misjudgement on your part.
    4) Additionally, contrary to the unsubstantiated notion that the Laurentian Channel is not sensitive, the CNLOPB would be well advised to study the DFO’s 2010 study, (Ecosystem status and trends report: Estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence ecozone), which states the Laurentian Channel is home to the largest concentration of krill in the North Atlantic. Which explains why Atlantic salmon migrate through and Gulf of St. Lawrence herring, among other species, spend their winters close to Old Harry. Be advised this krill supports the entire food chain of over 2,000 marine species in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
    Finally, it is difficult to find credibility in this process when the CNLOPB keeps bending the rules. First, we’re having an Independent Review, then we learn that the Commissioner has been let go, the offices closed, the oil company given a freebie extension – and we are seemingly reduced to an SEA with our alleged ‘independent review’ left to your ever changing discretion.
    In closing, please be advised we trust that the aforementioned comments are now a matter of public record with your Board.
    Respectfully submitted,
    Mary Gorman
    Save Our Seas and Shores Coalition
    cc: Gulf NS Herring Federation

  37. admin | May 11, 2012 at 5:08 pm

    Thanks for sharing this very compelling letter, Mary. It’s a great overview of the issue. Please let us know what happens.

  38. Mary Gorman | August 4, 2012 at 11:05 am

    August 1, 2012
    For Immediate Release

    Greens, Coalition, and Scientists Demand Exploration Halt in Gulf:
    Destruction of federal protections highly likely to have dire consequences

    HALIFAX – The Green Party of Canada, the Save Our Seas and Shores Coalition, and two prominent scientists today called for an exploration and drilling moratorium in the Gulf of St. Lawrence – starting with seismic testing.

    Green Party leader Elizabeth May, MP Saanich-Gulf Islands, Mary Gorman, Save Our Seas and Shores Coalition, Dr. Lindy Weilgart, Research Associate in Biology at Dalhousie University and an expert in seismic impacts on marine life, and Dr. Thomas Duck, Department of Physics and Atmospheric Science, Dalhousie University, also called on Canadians and regional provincial governments to join them in stopping the Harper Conservatives’ aggressive extraction agenda in the Gulf.

    “We need as many concerned Canadians as possible and their provincial representatives to join us in our call for an exploration moratorium in the Gulf of St. Lawrence” said Green Party Leader Elizabeth May, MP Saanich-Gulf Islands. “Prime Minister Stephen Harper has just spent the past few months pushing through his pro-oil budget and omnibus Bill C-38, and now he thinks nothing can stop him. We have to demonstrate that’s just not the case.”

    The elimination of federal regulations for offshore development are likely to have dire consequences for the Gulf of St. Lawrence, a highly sensitive ecosystem with over 2,000 marine species that spawn, nurse, and migrate year around, including lobster, herring, snow crab, mackerel, tuna, endangered blue and right whales, leatherback turtle, and harlequin ducks.

    Environmental assessments for exploratory drilling, which can be as dangerous as production drilling, were eliminated in the new Canadian Environmental Assessment Act 2012 (CEAA 2012) introduced in Bill C-38. It should be recognized that the largest oil spill in American history, the BP Macondo Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, was an exploratory well.

    Environmental assessments of seismic blasting were also eliminated. “Marine mammals and fish are highly impacted by seismic surveys. Whales can strand and die, often bleeding from their eyes; dolphins can go rigid, catatonic, and drown, and the hearing cells in fish can be ripped apart. To carry out this destruction in as productive and biologically rich an area as the Gulf is madness,” Dr. Lindy Weilgart warned.

    The Harper Conservatives are eliminating environmental regulations and protections to fast-track offshore drilling in spite of the fact that the Gulf provides a renewable global and regional food source, generating a thriving fishery – including Mi’kmaq and Acadian fishers – which, together with the tourism industry, is worth one billion dollars and creates approximately 50,000 related jobs. At the same time, the Harper Conservatives have not amended the current industry liability limit which now stands at 40 million – nothing compared to the billions BP has spent in the Gulf of Mexico.

    The Gulf has unique characteristics making exploration and extraction particularly risky. It is a partially landlocked, inland sea with strong, counter-clockwise, tidal currents that only empty into the Atlantic once a year. There is no feasible way to clean up an oil spill because the Gulf is one of the windiest regions in North America. Due to the currents, one oil spill could damage five provincial coastlines (Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, and Newfoundland).

    “As coastal landowners, we feel betrayed and abandoned by our governments who are gambling recklessly with everything we have worked for our entire lives – our property values and net worth along with our Gulf’s pristine beauty, recreational pleasures and unique maritime culture,” stated Mary Gorman.

    “I would like to formally welcome Prime Minister Harper to the 21st century and advise him that humans are not the only species on the planet. It is long past time to shuck off this anthropogenic attitude of superiority and mastery and learn a small lesson in humility. It is good for the soul. While the rest of the world is embracing change, our government is clinging to 20th century philosophies and business models. This may have been acceptable in the 1950s, but we have moved on. We urge the Canadian government to do the same,” said John Percy, Leader of the Nova Scotia Green Party.

    This aggressive extraction agenda is taking place as the government’s ability to monitor negative impacts has been greatly weakened. Professor Thomas Duck highlighted the ongoing reduction of scientific capacity at Environment Canada and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

    “Sound policy is informed by science, yet the Harper Conservatives have dismantled much of our capacity to monitor the impact of fossil fuel exploration and development. The elimination of scientific assessments and oversight — indeed, the whole of Harper’s war on evidence — puts the health and safety of Canadians and their environment at considerable risk.”


    Contact Information:
    Debra Eindiguer
    c: 613.240.8921

  39. Mary Gorman | August 4, 2012 at 11:08 am

    >> The Gulf of St. Lawrence will soon hear oil industry’s boom: Greens
    >> http://www.ipolitics.ca/2012/08/02/the-gulf-of-st-lawrence-will-soon-
    >> hear-oil-industrys-boom-greens/
    >> James Munson
    >> iPolitics.ca
    >> 2 August 2012
    >> Over the phone, Lindy Weilgart plays a recording of the sonic blasts oil
    companies use to explore for fossil fuels beneath the seabed.
    >> The muffled low-frequency buzz sounds ominous but much quieter than what
    a whale or a dolphin, which use sounds to mate and hunt, would hear in the
    ocean, said Weilgart, an internationally recognized expert in the field at
    Dalhousie University.
    >> “These are extremely high pressure air guns that release an amount of
    air, and that cause a hugely loud sound,” said Weilgart.
    >> The sound of the air gun’s explosion has to travel through the ocean,
    then through hundreds of kilometers of bedrock and finally all the way back
    up to the surface, where it’s recorded.
    >> The Gulf of St. Lawrence, an inland sea home to blue whales, humpback
    whales, belugas and countless kinds of fish, has remained largely free of
    these sounds in the past.
    >> But things are about to get loud, said Weilgart.
    >> As part of Ottawa’s push to boost Canada’s petroleum sector, the
    contentious spring budget included measures to turn the Gulf into a new oil
    frontier despite little success in the past and worries among coastal
    communities in four provinces that an oil slick could destroy fisheries and
    ecosystems. The budget measures received royal assent in late June.
    >> Now the federal Green Party is trying to rally opposition to oil and gas
    exploration. Leader Elizabeth May, who began her own career in environmental
    advocacy in the Maritimes, hosted a news conference in Halifax this morning
    on the risks of oil exploration.
    >> “The Gulf of St. Lawrence is inappropriate for oil and gas development,”
    said May in a phone interview after the news conference. “It should be a
    no-go zone.”
    >> The Gulf is home to thousands of bird and fish species whose ecosystem
    would be irrevocably damaged by exploration or an accident, said Mary
    Gorman, the head of Save our Seas and Shoreline, an activist group focused
    on oil exploration around Nova Scotia.
    >> The Gulf’s counter-clockwise currents only empty into the Atlantic once a
    year so an oil spill would spread over five coastlines during that time, she
    >> Ottawa named the Gulf by name in its spring budget as a target region for
    petroleum exploration. The budget also amended the Coasting Trade Act so
    that foreign seismic exploration vessels can now travel in Canadian waters.
    >> But it’s the Gulf’s environmental regulators that really have the Greens
    >> Four separate regulators work in the Gulf.
    >> The Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board (CNSOPB) and the
    Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (CNLOPB) govern
    the waters off those provinces’ coastlines.
    >> The National Energy Board covers pretty much everything else, except for
    waters off the Quebec coast, which will soon be jointly managed by Ottawa
    and that province after they signed an agreement in 2011.
    >> At the moment, oil exploration along Quebec appears to be quiet.
    >> The provincial government is currently waiting to finish a study on the
    effects of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, before allowing a moratorium
    on the exploration and extraction method to be lifted.
    >> However, the minister in charge of natural resources indicated this week
    that onshore oil exploration on Anticosti Island, which sits in the northern
    part of the Gulf, will not be subject to a moratorium.
    >> Most near-term conflicts over exploration will likely occur closer to the
    Atlantic provinces, where past exploration has taken place.
    >> There is currently only one viable exploration site in the Gulf, Old
    Harry, off the southeastern coast of Newfoundland & Labrador, which received
    and environmental assessment from the CNLOPB last October.
    >> “No significant residual adverse environmental effects, including
    cumulative environmental effects, will occur as a result of the Project,”
    says the assessment, which was outsourced to Stantec, an engineering firm.
    >> The CNSOPB and the CNLOPB, created in the aftermath of petroleum
    discoveries off those provinces’ coastlines in the Atlantic Ocean, don’t
    have the technical capacity to perform environmental assessments, said
    >> “By the terms of their creation, they exist to promote offshore oil and
    gas exploration,” she said. “The idea that they’re going to do rigorous
    assessments is a joke.”
    >> And, on top of that, Canada’s policy on seismic exploration and marine
    animals is not protective enough for a region teeming with as much wildlife
    as the Gulf, said Weilgart, the expert on marine animals and seismic blasts.
    >> “Canada’s policy is appalling,” said Weilgart, who provided advice to the
    federal government in 2005 when the policy on the issue was created.
    >> In Australia, if a seismic exploration vessel spots a marine mammal two
    kilometers away, it has to stop blasting, she said.
    >> In Canada, that same condition kicks in only if the vessel spots a whale
    at 400 meters, she said. And it only applies to endangered species.
    >> “It’s not precautionary at all,” said Weilgart,

  40. Mary Gorman | August 4, 2012 at 11:10 am

    Offshore exploration ban sought
    >> Seismic blasts harm whales, says scientist
    >> http://thechronicleherald.ca/business/122925-groups-call-for-offshore
    >> -drilling-moratoriam
    >> Bill Power
    >> Business Reporter
    >> The Chronicle Herald
    >> 1 August 2012
    >> An ear-splitting recording of a seismic blast, and a disturbing image of
    a whale bleeding from its eyes.
    >> These audio-visual tools became part of the opposition war chest
    Wednesday, as yet another call was heard for an exploration and drilling
    moratorium in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
    >> “When a whale hears a seismic blast, it panics and falls out of its
    normal diving pattern, sometimes with catastrophic results,” scientist Lindy
    Weilgart said after a news conference in Halifax.
    >> The event was hosted by opponents of oil and gas exploration in the gulf.
    >> Weilgart, an international seismic expert, and researcher Thomas Duck, an
    expert in remote sensing, joined representatives of the Green Party of
    Canada and the Save Our Seas and Shores Coalition at the media event.
    >> Aggressive moves recently by the federal government to open up oil and
    gas exploration on Canadian coasts have occurred at the same time cutbacks
    have impaired the capacity of the scientific community to monitor sensitive
    ecological systems, said Duck.

    >> “Without science to guide our decision-making processes, we cannot be
    assured we’re making good decisions,” he said.
    >> The media event was held in Halifax, where Corridor Resources Inc., is
    headquartered. The company wants to drill an exploratory well at the Old
    Harry site near Iles-de-la-Madeleine.
    >> Corridor Resources has applied to the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador
    Offshore Petroleum Board for environmental approval to drill the exploratory
    well before 2014.
    >> Corridor Resources president Phillip Knoll was not immediately available
    for comment, but he said recently that the company is following strict
    environmental protocols in its exploratory work.
    >> Elizabeth May, leader of the Green party, said the elimination of federal
    regulations for offshore development is likely to have dire consequences for
    the gulf.
    >> “Prime Minister Stephen Harper has just spent the past few months pushing
    through his pro-oil budget and omnibus Bill C-38, and now he thinks nothing
    can stop him,” said May.
    >> There is not any offshore oil and gas exploration underway in areas that
    fall under the purview of the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board,
    said a spokeswoman.
    >> However, Shell secured exploration rights for four parcels off the
    Atlantic coast of Nova Scotia in January of this year.
    >> (bpower@herald.ca) ILLUS: Lindy Weilgart, research associate in
    >> biology at Dalhousie University and an expert in seismic impacts on
    >> marine life, comments on the negative effect of seismic work during a
    >> press conference in Halifax on Wednesday. (PETER PARSONS/Staff);
    >> Green Party leader Elizabeth May

  41. Mary Gorman | August 4, 2012 at 11:12 am

    >> f-drilling-ban.html
    >> CBC News Posted: Aug 1, 2012 2:58 PM AT Last Updated: Aug 1, 2012
    >> 4:23 PM AT
    >> The Green Party of Canada is calling for a moratorium on exploration and
    drilling in the Gulf of St. Lawrence in the face of a proposed deep-water
    oil well.
    >> Corridor Resources Inc. is looking for approval from the
    Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board to drill a well
    east of Prince Edward Island by 2015.
    >> At a news conference in Halifax Wednesday, Green Party Leader Elizabeth
    May said the prime minister is reducing environmental protection in Canada
    to make it easier for companies to drill in areas teeming with fish and
    >> “Stephen Harper, he’s taken a position on the Gulf of St. Lawrence – it’s
    open season for oil and gas,” she said.
    >> Phil Knoll, president of Corridor Resources Inc., responded to May’s call
    for a moratorium.
    >> “I can tell you we certainly don’t agree with it. We believe and we think
    it’s well documented that the industry can conduct seismic and exploration
    projects very safely.”
    >> Tom Duck, an atmospheric scientist at Dalhousie University, said he
    attended May’s event to express concerns about laying off scientists who
    could have weighed in on the drilling debate.
    >> “Key groups at Environment Canada (and the) Department of Fisheries and
    Oceans that monitor the impacts of oil and gas development have been
    dismantled. With this in mind, I think that a moratorium is prudent.”
    >> A decision on whether Corridor Resources can drill in the Gulf of St.
    Lawrence is expected in July 2013.

  42. mary gorman | October 2, 2012 at 12:54 am


    For Immediate release

    Sept 25, 2012


    Save Our Seas and Shores, a coalition trying to protect the Gulf of St. Lawrence from offshore oil and gas development is ‘uncomfortable’ with the Canada Newfoundland Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board’s (CNLOPB) choice to conduct the Strategic Environmental Assessment for ‘Old Harry’ and western NL in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

    AMEC Environment & Infrastructure(AMEC) is a division of AMEC, one of the world’s leading engineering, project management and consultancy companies whose clients include BP and Shell. According to the company’s website, the company is on the London Stock Exchange in the Oil Equipment and Services Sector, and offers ”services which extend from environmental and front end engineering design before the start of a project to decommissioning at the end of an asset’s life.” http://www.amec.com/aboutus/at_a_glance.htm

    “We have apprehension with the Board’s choice because of this company’s involvement in offshore oil development.” said Greg Egilsson, president of the Gulf NS Herring Federation, who represents 430 licensed herring fishermen in Nova Scotia’s Gulf region.

    The coalition points out that CNLOPB’s Chairman, Max Ruelokke, worked for AMEC’s East Coast Oil and Gas division prior to being appointed Chairman of the CNLOPB in 2006. http://www.cnlopb.nl.ca/abt_max_ruelokke.shtml

    These types of relationships between the regulator, the contractors and the industry have recently caused concern with respect to Keystone XL’s oil pipeline development, when a State Department Environmental assessment was done by a company with ties to the promoter. (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/08/science/earth/08pipeline.html?pagewanted=all&_moc.semityn.www)

    “We deserve a fair, impartial hearing. Fish are surfacing deformed in the Gulf of Mexico after BP’s spill; and herring fishermen in Alaska near where the Exxon Valdez spill happened, have not seen the herring come back 22 years later. We have to prevent disasters like these from happening here,” said Egilsson.

    The coalition notes that this environmental assessment is important because it will provide the framework to determine whether offshore development should proceed or not in Canada’s ecologically sensitive Gulf, whose beauty and bounty feeds multi-billion dollar fishery and tourism industries for five provinces annually.

    “Because the stakes are so high, this assessment MUST be transparent and respectful of science, especially the many gaps in scientific knowledge and understanding of how our ecosystems work. The BP Deepwater Horizon, an exploratory well that went horribly wrong, shows that serious long-term impacts do occur, especially during exploration. Yet the federal government is dismantling regulatory protections instead of strengthening them, and we are left at the mercy of unelected provincial boards.” said Dr. Irené Novaczek, director of the Institute of Island Studies at UPEI.

    “These boards have conflicting mandates for petroleum industry development, worker safety and environmental health. They have consistently focused on development, backed up by industry consultants who focus on ‘mitigation’ of negative impacts, instead of protecting vulnerable and poorly understood ecosystems from development,” said Novaczek.

    “How can they even consider risking valuable renewable marine resources to access non renewable fossil fuels, when there is an excess of bitumen coming out of Alberta? It makes no sense whatsoever,” said Mary Gorman, a coastal landowner from Merigomish, NS.

    “This regulator seems willing to risk our Gulf’s global food supply, culture, recreation, property values, national parks and the most beautiful coastlines on this earth. But are they prepared to assume the responsibility of this risk? Who will be held accountable if this development proceeds and goes all wrong?” asked Gorman.

    The Gulf of St. Lawrence is a semi-landlocked, inland sea and breeding area for over 2,000 marine species who spawn, nurse and migrate year around. Because the Gulf’s waters only exchange with the Atlantic once each year, and due to its counterclockwise currents, a spill could wash up on the coastlines of all five Atlantic provinces over the course of a year.


    For further information:

    Greg Egilsson 902.485.1729 egilsson@eastlink.ca

    Dr. Irené Novaczek 902.566.0386 inovaczek@upei.ca

    Mary Gorman 902.926.2128 mjgorman@ns.sympatico.ca

  43. Mary Gorman | January 5, 2013 at 2:17 pm

    Toronto Star’s year end editorial in which our Gulf is prominently featured.

    Harper’s record
    2012: A bleak year for environmental policy
    Published on Monday December 31, 2012
    Share on twitter Share on facebook
    Adrian Wyld/THE CANADIAN PRESS Prime Minister Stephen Harper in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa last February.

    Austerity and obscurantism. These were the defining features of the first full calendar year of Stephen Harper’s majority government, which came to a quiet close this week.

    Take, for instance, Bill C-38, Canada’s longest-ever federal budget. Setting out $5-billion in spending cuts, the budget was the most austere in over a decade. And yet, despite the depth of the slashes and thus their potential to remake the country, their nature and likely impacts remain intentionally obscure. As part of an omnibus budget, most of the cuts were not evaluated by the relevant parliamentary committees; details about their implementation were withheld from watchdogs and opposition MPs; and many cuts were to programs without which it will be very difficult to measure the price we’ve paid for austerity.

    This was particularly true, and particularly unsettling, in the case of the government’s approach to environmental policy in 2012. Bill C-38 included more than $160 million in cuts to environmental spending, significantly impairing our ability to measure or mitigate our impact on Canada’s wilderness and wildlife. Yet it was never put before the Commons environment committee, nor does the bill ever mention climate change.

    Here are just a few of the measures, buried deep within the 400-plus-page budget, that were passed with little or no public debate:

    Oil and water

    The government explicitly invited resource companies to begin drilling for oil in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, the world’s largest estuary, and amended the Coasting Trade Act to make it easier for them to do so. This despite the fact that the seismic method of exploratory drilling that would be used in the area is known often to maim or kill some of the 2,000 species of marine wildlife that live in the Gulf and are essential to the Atlantic and Great Lakes fisheries. Worse, an oil spill would likely permanently disrupt that ecosystem, not to mention sully the coastlines of Canada’s five easternmost provinces.

    Unfortunately, we’re no longer able to ascertain the probability of an oil spill. The budget lifted the requirement for environmental assessments of offshore drilling and gutted the Centre for Offshore Oil, Gas and Energy Research, the one environmental agency capable of doing them.

    Moreover, the decimation of COOGER, in addition to the deep cuts to oil-spill-response units and Pacific fisheries scientists, make the government’s proposed plan to ship raw bitumen from Canada’s west coast to Asia considerably riskier than it already was.

    Data deep-sixed

    The budget also withdrew funding from the Experimental Lakes Area, the world’s leading freshwater research centre, which has done groundbreaking work on acid rain, household pollutants and much more.

    Apparently the Department of Fisheries and Oceans can’t find the $2 million per year required to run the facility, though it will have to scare up the $50 million needed to remediate the lakes in the area upon the centre’s closing. It’s a bewildering decision that calls into question whether the government’s motivations are, as it claims, fiscal, or whether the Conservatives are instead trying to silence a source of inconvenient data.

    Meanwhile, we needn’t wonder about the motivations behind the government’s scrapping of the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy, a federally funded environmental watchdog created by the Mulroney government in 1988. When asked in Parliament how the government justified its decision to cut funding for the organization, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird implied it was because the Conservatives objected to the Round Table’s repeated endorsements of a carbon tax.

    In 2012, the government’s environmental policies showed a commitment to pursuing short-term economic gain, even if at a great long-term cost. We need something better than austerity at the expense of the environment and obscurantism at the expense of democracy. There’s an important debate to be had about how to negotiate between the economic potential of Canada’s natural resources and the environmental cost of exploiting them. Let’s hope the government is willing to have it in 2013.

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  44. Mary Gorman | July 11, 2013 at 8:15 pm

    This was Published on June 16, 2013 in New Glasgow News

    MERIGOMISH – A local woman who had dedicated her efforts to keeping ocean water clean will be featured in a national TV series, Green Heroes.

    Mary Gorman of Merigomish, who is also an active member of the Save Our Seas Coalition, will have her story aired Tuesday, July 16 at 7:30 and Sunday, July 21 at 8:30 p.m. on TVO.

    The show will be repeated several times after the initial broadcast that is entitled Saving Oceans. Produced by CineFocus Canada in association with TVO, the six 30-minute series tell stories of people who acted on their ideas and heroically “ventured forth” to protect our planet. From the celebrity to the everyday person, each story details the different paths and interests the Green Heroes have taken in their quests to help save the world.

    According to the Green Heroes website, Gorman is described as a woman trying to stop a disaster before it starts: Canada’s own Gulf Oil Spill. Twelve years ago, she turned from fisherman’s wife to Green Heroes after two leases were issued for oil and gas development on the shores of her Nova Scotia home. Knowing spills were likely and would impact 2,000 marine species including endangered ones, Gorman decided to prevent a disaster instead of reacting later. Today she has formed a growing movement with support from celebrities like Ethan Hawke and Jason Priestley. Her struggle and resulting victory led to her winning the inaugural Green Heroes award, as selected by fans of the web channel and a jury of esteemed environmental and broadcast judges.

    In addition to Gorman, the Saving Oceans episode will also feature Farley Mowat and Alexandra Cousteau. Mowat is one of Canada’s most widely read authors and best-known conservationists. He is also an active supporter of such groups as Sea Shepherd and Gorman’s mission to protect the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

    Cousteau is a filmmaker and TV host who has mastered a storytelling tradition to inspire and empower individuals to project not only the ocean and its inhabitants, but also the human communities that rely on freshwater resources.

  45. Mary Gormarn | July 11, 2013 at 8:18 pm

    Norwegian scientists oppose oil exploration in key Barents Sea cod spawning zone Lofoten-Vesteralen
    SEAFOOD.COM NEWS [The Barents Observer] by Christi Turner – June 27, 2013

    In its advisory role to the Ministry of Fisheries and Coastal Affairs, the Institute of Marine Research does not tend to oppose the development of Norway’s coastal and offshore oil industry. But IMR senior scientist and former executive director Ole Arve Misund said that when it comes to the Lofoten-Vesteralen site, the stakes are different.

    “Our advice is not to open that area for oil exploration,” Misund said. “This has continued to be IMR’s advice for a long time. That is the most important spawning ground for cod.”

    Misund and his colleague Erik Olsen publicized their advice in an article released this week in the ICES Journal of Marine Science. The article emphasized that the risks associated with oil exploration are far too high, and the consequences of an accident in Lofoten-Vesteralen would be “much more serious than in any other part of the Norwegian marine environment.”

    The northeast Arctic cod represents the most valuable fishery in the Barents Sea, and recommendations for the fishery’s total allowable catch are at record high levels. It is the world’s largest cod stock, and recognized as one of the most sustainably managed. But Misund said that oil exploration in Lofoten-Vesteralen poses a direct threat to this thriving species.

    “When the cod is feeding up in the Barents Sea, it is rather dispersed, and an oil accident up there would only affect a minor proportion of the stock,” Misund said. “But if it happened at Lofoten at the worst time of year, it might have a considerable effect on the spawning stock. In the worst case scenario, entire year classes could more or less disappear.”

    Misund cited the 1989 Exxon-Valdez oil spill in Alaska’s Prince William Sound, which decimated the region’s vital herring fishery just after it had reached record harvests. Even after more than 20 years of cleanup efforts and scientific monitoring, the species is still listed as “not recovering.” A similar scenario for the northeast Arctic cod is not hard for Misund to imagine.

    Every year for at least 1,000 years, the northeast Arctic cod have been returning to the warm waters of Lofoten to spawn, between February and April. Indeed, the cod fishery has been the backbone of historical development of the communities and cities along the western Norwegian coastline.

    Given the extreme biological, historical and economic importance of the region, why then does the pressure to drill remain so high?

    For one thing, there is probably a whole lot of oil beneath this particular chunk of the seafloor.

    The Ministry of Oil and Energy reports a 95 percent probability of finding at least 76 million cubic meters of oil equivalents – about the amount of energy released from burning 90 million tonnes of oil. This represents 2.92 percent of Norway’s total estimated undiscovered petroleum resources.

    And that would be worth a lot of money – as much as NOK 50 billion (EUR 6.3 billion).

    “That’s the tension,” Misund said. “Of course the value of the fisheries is not that much – 50 billion is the total value of two years of all Norwegian fisheries.”

    For the time being, the governing coalition formed by Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg’s Labour Party, the Centre Party and the Socialist Left Party remains opposed to opening the Lofoten-Vesteralen site to oil exploration. But with parliamentary elections approaching in September, Misund fears that the situation may change. Yet no matter the election results, he said that IMR will stand by its advice to protect the cod fishery.

    “Every winter they must return to the warm waters of Lofoten to spawn,” Misund said. “This is the way it has been, the way nature has developed the northeast Arctic cod stock. We shouldn’t do damage to its spawning habitat. That is our fundamental argument.”

  46. Mary Gorman | July 11, 2013 at 8:20 pm

    >> Landmark settlement aims to protect Gulf whales and dolphins
    >> Jeremy P. Jacobs, E&E reporters
    >> Published: Friday, June 21, 2013
    >> Conservation groups, the Interior Department and oil and gas
    >> representatives yesterday reached a landmark settlement that will place
    >> restrictions on the use of seismic surveys to protect vulnerable
    >> populations of whales and dolphins in the Gulf of Mexico.
    >> The settlement focuses on the use of high-intensity air guns, which
    >> fire air into the water every 10 to 12 seconds for weeks and months at a
    >> time. The technology is critical to prospecting in the Gulf of Mexico
    >> for new places to drill.
    >> Advocates including the Natural Resources Defense Council, Center
    >> for Biological Diversity, Sierra Club and Gulf Restoration Network
    >> allege that the blasts — which are sometimes as intense as dynamite —
    >> threaten bottlenose dolphins and sperm whales, both of which have
    >> experienced die-offs since the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill.
    >> “Today’s agreement is a landmark for marine mammal protection in the
    >> Gulf,” said Michael Jasny of NRDC. “For years this problem has
    >> languished, even as the threat posed by the industry’s widespread,
    >> disruptive activity has become clearer and clearer.”
    >> The environmental groups filed their lawsuit in 2010 in a Louisiana
    >> federal court. They claimed that the blasts disrupted the whales,
    >> dolphins and other ocean species that rely on sound to feed, mate and
    >> navigate, though industry groups strongly dispute that characterization.
    >> The environmentalists claimed that Interior violated the Marine
    >> Mammal Protection Act and Endangered Species Act when it permitted the
    >> use of air guns without preparing an environmental impact statement.
    >> Several industry groups, however, pushed back on the lawsuit and
    >> NRDC’s claims. Moreover, Chip Gill, president of the International
    >> Association of Geophysical Contractors, classified the settlement as a
    >> “huge victory” because his members were already implementing many of its
    >> terms.
    >> The lawsuit, he said, contained “numerous outlandish and
    >> unsubstantiated allegations. The environmental groups can’t prove them,
    >> so they are settling.”
    >> Gill said a worst-case scenario would have been for the court to
    >> throw out Interior’s 2004 National Environmental Policy Act review. If
    >> that happened, permits could have been revoked or a hold could have been
    >> placed on future permits. None of that is part of yesterday’s
    >> settlement, he said.
    >> Sperm whales and bottlenose dolphins have experienced significant
    >> and unexplained die-offs in the Gulf of Mexico since the 2010 spill.
    >> Environmentalists have sought to point the finger at the spill, but
    >> government scientists are continuing to study the cause, and the air
    >> guns are seen as a confounding variable in solving the problem.
    >> The settlement prohibits the use of air guns in biologically
    >> important areas, such as the DeSoto Canyon, which is particularly
    >> important to endangered sperm whales. The canyon is also critical to
    >> Bryde’s whales.
    >> Under the agreement, industry also may not use air guns along
    >> coastal areas during the main calving season of bottlenose dolphins
    >> between March 1 and April 30, and the settlement requires a minimum
    >> separation distance between surveys.
    >> Additionally, the settlement, which still must be approved by the
    >> court, requires the use of listening devices to make sure the air guns
    >> aren’t disrupting marine mammals.
    >> “The settlement not only secures new protections for whales and
    >> dolphins harmed by deafening air guns but also establishes a process for
    >> investigating alternatives to air gun surveys,” said Ellen Medlin of the
    >> Sierra Club, referring to a mandated Bureau of Ocean Energy Management
    >> report on new standards and multiyear research project to be developed
    >> on an less harmful alternative.
    >> “As a result,” Medlin said, “the settlement not only delivers
    >> immediate benefits for Gulf marine mammals, but also takes the first
    >> step towards a long-term solution.”

  47. Mary Gorman | July 11, 2013 at 8:26 pm

    Ethan Hawke bites back at proposed St. Lawrence offshore drilling
    By: Michelle McQuigge, The Canadian Press

    Posted: 11/23/2011 3:32 AM | Comments: 4 | Last Modified: 11/23/2011 8:30 AM

    The Hollywood heavyweight who routinely seeks refuge from the limelight on Canada’s East Coast is calling on the country’s energy industry to abandon its plans to drill for oil in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

    TORONTO – A Hollywood heavyweight who routinely seeks refuge from the limelight on Canada’s East Coast is calling on the country’s energy industry to abandon its plans to drill for oil in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

    The pristine wilderness of Nova Scotia captured Ethan Hawke’s attention 12 years ago when he was visiting a friend, so moving him that he decided to buy a part-time retreat for himself and his family.

    That wilderness, Hawke said, is now under threat from plans to begin offshore oil drilling in the gulf, an expanse of some 236,000 square kilometres that spans five provinces.

    “At every turn, when humanity is asked the question, ‘Do you want temporary economic gain or long-term environmental loss, which one do you prefer,’ we invariably choose the money,” Hawke told The Canadian Press in an interview from New York City.

    “It’s totally understandable, but I feel like we’re reaching, as a community, some kind of crisis point.”

    Hawke, who rose to stardom in 1994 during his turn as an aimless musician in “Reality Bites” and earned an Academy Award nomination for his performance in 2001’s “Training Day,” says last year’s oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico offers a terrifying glimpse of what could happen if offshore exploration is allowed to move forward.

    Quite apart from marring the scenic landscape, Hawke said the provinces bounding the gulf would suffer untold economic and cultural hardships if oil contamination damaged the fisheries that sustain employment in the area.

    Even exploratory drilling in the St. Lawrence could disturb the fragile ecosystem, Hawke said, noting that the Gulf of Mexico was suffering well before last year’s offshore BP disaster, which saw nearly 4.9 million barrels of crude spew into the ocean over three months.

    “We need to understand that we are putting it at risk,” he said. “Whether there’s an accident or not, I can tell you even before the BP spill, the Maritimes does not want their ocean to look like Galveston, Texas.”

    The prospect of drilling in the area has grown closer to reality in recent years. Halifax-based Corridor Resources Inc. has announced plans to drill a single exploratory well at the Old Harry prospect near the Iles-de-la-Madeleine, which falls under the purview of Newfoundland and Labrador.

    While Quebec currently has a province-wide moratorium on offshore drilling, no such measures exist in Newfoundland.

    The province’s offshore regulator said the Old Harry project is subject to careful scrutiny and will not proceed without a thorough assessment of all environmental concerns.

    A spokesman for the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board said Old Harry is currently being evaluated in two environmental assessments — one commissioned by Corridor, the other a public consultation led by former New Brunswick ombudsman Bernard Richard.

    But Jean-Patrick Toussaint, science project manager with the David Suzuki Foundation, said the public inquiry’s scope is too narrow to be of benefit to the gulf. Richard’s mandate bars him from making binding recommendations and will only see him visit a limited number of locations, Toussaint said.

    Even if the reviews resulted in rigorous environmental safeguards, the ecosystem would be exposed to contamination, he added.

    “Anything to do with exploratory drilling is bound to have some sort of repercussions,” Toussaint said. “There’s always some small to medium spills just by the simple fact of having oil activity.”

    Travis Davies, a spokesman for the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, said such considerations factor heavily in all decisions related to land or offshore development.

    Provincial regulators exist to ensure a balance between local economic interests and wider ecological concerns, Davies said.

    “If you look at the big picture, there’s certainly economic input for the provinces and federal entities that are involved, but none of that happens in a vacuum where the environment isn’t important,” he said. “You’ve got to consider all three, whether it’s energy supply, economics and environment.”

    A coalition of citizens and special interest groups living along the gulf no balance is possible in this case, adding

    The Gulf of St. Lawrence, however, is a special case, says a coalition of local residents and special interest groups in the area, which they argue has a unique environmental profile that makes it unsuitable for exploration at Old Harry or anywhere else.

    Mary Gorman, founding member of the Save our Seas and Shores coalition, said the site of the Old Harry prospect is located on an artery through which thousands of marine species migrate in and out of the gulf each year.

    Gorman said the ice cover on parts of the estuary would hinder clean-up efforts from potential spills, while the gulf’s complex counter-clockwise currents ensure that any environmental debris will eventually reach the shores of Quebec, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Nova Scotia.

    Provincial attempts to regulate drilling activity are fruitless, she warned, and only a complete moratorium on oil and gas exploration will adequately protect the area.

    “To have our provinces trying to do these piecemeal environmental assessments as if fish are static in water and never move, it’s pure folly and it’s extremely dangerous,” she said.

    Hawke’s decision to speak up marks the second prominent Hollywood intervention in Canadian affairs of energy and the environment in almost as many days.

    On Monday, celluloid superstar Robert Redford — already a vocal critic of the proposed Keystone XL bitumen pipeline linking Canadian energy to the U.S. Gulf Coast — published an op-ed piece in the Globe and Mail newspaper decrying the source of that bitumen: the controversial oilsands development near Fort McMurray, Alta.

    The piece also condemned the Northern Gateway pipeline, Enbridge Inc.’s proposed 1,200-kilometre project to transport oil from the oilsands to northern B.C.

    It would cleave the territories “of more than 50 First Nations groups, slicing through rivers and streams that form one of the most important salmon habitats in the world and putting at risk the coastal ecosystem of British Columbia,” Redford wrote in his environmental cross-border call to arms.

    “Americans don’t want to see that happen any more than Canadians do, and we’ll stand by you to fight it.”

    For Hawke, the danger encompasses more than the scenic vistas visible from his rural retreat. He said he believes a fundamentally Canadian way of life is at stake.

    “I think having nature be a part of people’s lives helps all of us see ourselves as part of something larger,” Hawke said.

    “When the wind and the rain and the sun and all that stuff is … a part of your life, you’re not under the false illusion that you control everything, like a little thermostat thing that you can yell at the guy to fix.

    “I think it makes for an authentic people. I can only say it’s been really good for my kids and really good for me.”

  48. Mary Gorman | July 11, 2013 at 8:28 pm

    Just say no to Old Harry development

    One blown oil well in the Gulf of St. Lawrence would impact the region’s multibillion-dollar fishing and tourism industries, not to mention the impact on Atlantic Ocean marine life. File photo

    Published on July 29th, 2010
    Published on July 29th, 2010

    Topics :
    Montreal Gazette , Department of Fisheries and Oceans , Exxon Valdez , Canada , Gulf of Mexico , Cape Breton
    By Mary Gorman

    Guest opinion

    I could barely read ‘Boundary feuds thwarting attempts to drill promising prospects in the St. Lawrence’ (Montreal Gazette, July 20). Surreal, it referred to the huge stakes involved in the “29-km long field of undersea hydrocarbons” as if “Old Harry” is all that exists in our precious Gulf of St. Lawrence.

    No mention of the 50,000 jobs created annually by the gulf’s multibillion-dollar fishery and tourism industries. Or the economic, ecological and social impact this deepwater well could pose.

    It takes only one blown well, as we know from the Gulf of Mexico disaster. No mention of spawning, nursery and migratory areas for lobster, herring, snow crab, mackerel, whales and dolphins, to name a few. Fragile Atlantic salmon, cod and wolfish, fin whale and humpback whale are in trouble. The right whale, bluefin tuna, piping plover and leatherback turtle are endangered.

    Time and again, offshore oil industry giants have proven they cannot prevent, stop or clean up spills before damage occurs for decades, if not centuries. Twenty years later, only four per cent of the oil spilled from the Exxon Valdez has been recovered.

    For 40 years, scientists have been calling for a moratorium on exploration and drilling in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. In 1973, a McGill University professor called for a ban, describing it as “the most productive marine region in Canada that should never be placed in harm’s way.” Because of the counterclockwise circulatory currents, he said, oil and gas contamination would be widespread along the gulf shorelines of all five East Coast provinces.

    Ten years ago, after exploration leases were issued along Cape Breton’s shoreline by Nova Scotia’s petroleum board, scientists from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans referred to the gulf’s semi-landlocked nature and winter ice cover (How do you clean up spills under ice?) stating, “This is a biologically diverse area where sensitive life stages of marine organisms are present throughout the year.” Meaning, there is no safe time to proceed with seismic blasting.

    At a public review about the Cape Breton leases, even the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers testified its industry wants sensitive marine areas identified and placed out of bounds.

    So how can it be, a decade later, we’re back on this wretched road again? Where ordinary citizens have to step up to fill the void left by oblivious federal and provincial politicians? Tourism ministers are asleep at the switch. Only one environment minister, P.E.I.’s Richard Brown, has called for a summit on offshore oil and gas, after visiting Louisiana.

    The hypocrisy is that, under Canada’s Oceans Act, inshore fishermen have been under a precautionary quotas for 20 years. Yet when it comes to oil and gas, the DFO and Environment Canada have signed off on their legislated mandates to protect marine habitat to petroleum boards that allow the oil industry to monitor their its environmental requirements. This is eerily similar to the lack of oversight that caused the BP ecological nightmare.

    Who made the decision to place the protection of marine habitat in the hands of the petroleum industry?

    Rather than embracing renewable energy, our governments have betrayed the public interest by pandering to the offshore petroleum industry. They are risking the survival of historic coastal communities, ancestral Gaelic, Acadian and First Nation fishing grounds and the oceans that sustain life on Earth.

    The fish that have been the source of livelihoods for centuries (and will continue for future generations if we stop this disrespect) don’t recognize provincial boundaries. They swim through them.

    The solution to the jurisdictional bickering over who gets Old Harry is simple: No one should.

    Mary Gorman is a Nova Scotia writer and activist, and a founding member of the Save Our Seas and Shores Coalition.

  49. Mary Gorman | July 11, 2013 at 8:35 pm

    October 22, 2012

    Elizabeth Young
    Canada Newfoundland Offshore Petroleum Board
    5th Floor, TD Place, 140 Water Street,
    St. John’s, NL A1C 6H6

    Dear Ms. Young:

    Re: Western NL Strategic Environmental Assessment

    First let us say, that the CNLOPB’s SEA process for Western Newfoundland has thus far, created discouragement due to its lack of public transparency, consistency and accountability. Some Nova Scotians, who live on the Gulf of St. Lawrence, had to travel three and one half hours each way to attend a drop in session in Sydney, Nova Scotia, which is not even located in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

    This is one of many criticisms our Coalition has over this ‘public process’. Other complaints include but are not limited to:

    1) the lack of opportunity for citizens to voice their concerns on the public record at the open house sessions;
    2) no chairs to even sit down
    3) the arbitrary selection of particular groups invited for private meetings. (It is ironic that Save Our Seas and Shores Coalition who represents over fifty groups in five provinces and the Gulf Nova Scotia Herring Federation, who represents over 400 licensed herring fishermen, and who helped generate this updated SEA process over the past two years, were not even invited to these private meetings).

    On this basis, we do not consider this process to be democratic or legitimate. We do not feel that our highly sensitive Gulf environment is legitimately protected by your Board. In our opinion, the CNLOPB as a regulator, has broken the public trust and failed in its mandate regarding this SEA process.

    This SEA being conducted is in stark contrast to a letter we received from Environment Minister Peter Kent on Sept 26, 2011 which states:

    “Many of the concerns that have been raised in comments received relate to the broader policy issue as to whether there should be oil and gas activities in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and to the potential environmental effects at the regional level of such activities. To address these concerns, I have concluded that the Board needs to update its strategic environmental assessment for the Western Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore area, by conducting thorough public consultation to address the concerns highlighted to date and by better examining the broader environmental effects of oil and gas activities in this area.”

    Because this SEA process has not engaged in ‘thorough public consultation’; nor has it properly examined the broader environmental effects of oil and gas activities in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, we will now attempt to address these broader environmental impacts of oil and gas activities in this area:

    To offer a historical context for this submission, you should be aware that Save Our Seas and Shores Coalition was formed over a decade ago, when the Canada Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board irresponsibly issued shoreline leases on both sides of Cape Breton Island and the Cape Breton Highlands National Park. These types of shoreline leases were similar to the leases now attached to the entire shoreline of stunning, beautiful western Newfoundland and Gros Morne National Park.

    We have great concern regarding Old Harry, an oil lease issued by the CNLOPB to Corridor Resources, a junior oil company that has never drilled offshore before. Old Harry is a deepwater exploratory well lease, similar to BP’s Macondo well, which created the worst oil spill disaster in US history in the Gulf of Mexico.

    Old Harry is located in the Laurentian Channel, which is the main artery in and out of the Gulf of St. Lawrence for over 2,000 marine species that spawn, nurse and migrate year around. The Laurentian Channel is also home to the largest concentration of Krill in the North Atlantic which is a vital component of the food chain for these species.

    This highly sensitive marine area is home for herring, lobster, snow crab, mackerel, tuna, ground fish, seals, whales and dolphins, to name a few. Gaspereau, bass, sea trout and salmon etc migrate through our Gulf to and from rivers that flow from NS, NB, PEI, NL and QC. Fragile Atlantic salmon, Atlantic cod and Atlantic wolfish, fin whale, and humpback whale are listed of special concern. Right whale, piping plover, leatherback turtle, harlequin duck and blue whale are endangered.

    To put this situation into context, we’d like to give you a brief background of our inshore fishery in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

    Multi-species inshore fishers hold more than one license. This is a licensing conservation measure enabling fishermen to ease up on a stock under pressure. In other words, if the ground fish stock is down, which it has been since the collapse in ‘93, to ease pressure on the stock in decline, efforts are directed at other fisheries, be it mackerel, herring, lobster, rock crab and so forth.

    After the government of Canada announced the 200 mile limit in the early ‘80’s, in their elation of finally claiming Canadian waters, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans(DFO) subsidized the expansion of mid and offshore corporate specialist ground fish fleets. Within the first couple of years after this fleet expansion, inshore multi species fishers who hold ground fish licenses could see there was too much pressure on ground fish stocks and that they were falling into decline. In the mid ‘80’s, inshore fishers warned the federal government that ground fish stocks were going down and could not handle the pressure of the corporate fleet expansion that DFO had subsidized. But warnings fell on deaf ears.

    Instead, as we all know, ground fish stocks were fished to the point of collapse, displacing 36,000 workers, the single largest layoff in Canadian history; clear evidence of what happens when precaution and respect are not extended to marine life and the supporting ecosystem. One would hope that our governments and regulators might have learned a lesson from this preventable tragedy. But it seems not.

    In spite of the approximate $400 million dollars spent by the Canadian government since the ground fish collapse to downsize the mid and offshore fleets in order to create a fishery that could sustain itself, it seems that certain elected officials who can’t grow beyond their industrialized mentality, are all too willing to place in jeopardy the Canadian tax payers ($400,000,000), four hundred million dollar investment in our future, to create a sustainable fishery.

    When the ground fishery collapsed, it was difficult to listen to media reports that blamed ‘too many fishermen, too few fish’. The truth of the matter was that the ground fishery collapsed because of ‘too few fishermen catching too many fish’. The distribution of ground fish quota in the Gulf of St. Lawrence at the time of the collapse was: approx. 10% of fishers had 90% of the quota and 90% of fishers, i.e. the small multi-species inshore boats, had approx.10% of the quota.

    Precautionary Principle:

    We mention this because it is important to note that Gulf of St. Lawrence inshore fishers not only suffered economically, they suffered the humiliation of being blamed for a collapse they did not create. Since the ground fish moratorium, inshore fishers have sacrificed quietly. For two decades now, they have been managed by DFO within a precautionary principle – closed fisheries, test fisheries, limited quotas and microscopic scrutiny over mesh sizes, gear types, what they are allowed to fish, where they are allowed to fish, when they are allowed to fish and how they are allowed to fish. In good faith, inshore fishers have worked steadily with DFO under this precautionary approach to attempt to bring back stocks in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

    Gulf of St. Lawrence inshore fishers have a history of being leaders in conservation and, we might add, receive little respect for it. We practice what DFO preaches. Fishing practices for every single species are scrutinized relentlessly to make sure conservation comes first. Fishers pay for the dockside monitoring and observer coverage of stocks to make sure conservation comes first.

    We have done all this out of respect for God-given living renewable resources and because everyone knows that if we protect our fish, we will continue to have a long term multi-species inshore fishery sustaining hundreds of coastal communities and tens of thousands of jobs in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Unless, of course, it is destroyed by others.

    So how do you think fishermen feel after all these years of working with DFO to preserve healthy stocks and rebuild ground fish stocks, only to find out petroleum permits have been approved in vital spawning, nursery and migratory areas?

    How do you think Canadians feel when we find out that when it comes to the petrochemical industry, DFO and EC’s legislated mandates to protect marine habitat and our environment have been deferred by the signing of Memorandums of Understanding with unelected provincial Offshore Petroleum Boards who are trying to cut up on paper a single body of water into five separate bodies of water? The problem here is, water moves and fish swim through provincial boundaries.

    In our opinion, the CNLOPB, a so called independent provincial regulator, is in a conflict of interest by its very structure, as both promoter of development and protector of marine habitat that allows petroleum companies to monitor their own safety and environmental requirements. How did the protection of marine habitat get placed in the hands of the petroleum industry? After the Gulf of Mexico disaster, the American government created a separate agency for environmental protection. Will Canada wait until we have a similar disaster before correcting this profound discrepancy?

    The regulatory processes for approval of seismic blasting are so slack in this country, they are basically a green light for the petroleum industry regardless of the lack of knowledge of species and the ecosystem.

    Where was the public consultation that allowed the Canada Offshore Petroleum Resources Accord Act to take precedence over Canada’s Fisheries Act, Oceans Act and Environment Act?

    Where are the consultations about the threat of oily waters and shores to the Gulf of St. Lawrence’s global food supply, coastal property values, our water frontage, river frontage and estuaries, our sports fisheries, ecotourism, culture and pristine way of life?

    Why are our Gulf sea beds allowed to be leased out to the oil industry by our government prior to public consultation about the potential of such development to radically and irrevocably alter our livelihoods, way of life and culture as Gulf residents?

    According to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, our east coast fishery exports three billion dollars a year. Does anyone honestly believe that renewable marine resources and their supporting ecosystems that generate $3billion dollars annually would need no sensitive areas to be identified and placed out of bounds to petroleum development? The Gulf of St. Lawrence alone, exports ($1,500,000,000.) 1.5 billion dollars in fish annually.

    Who gave publicly funded bureaucracies the right to compromise their legislated mandates to protect precious marine ecosystems? Without adequate study and public consultation of the impacts of seismic blasting, exploratory drilling and gas flaring on vital species, our governments are betraying the public interest to accommodate the petroleum industry at the taxpayer’s expense.

    For over forty years, scientists have called for a moratorium on offshore development in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. In 1973, Dr. Loutfi, of Mc Gill University, assisted by a multi-disciplinary team, prepared a study for Environment Canada. According to Dr. Loutfi, “ the Gulf of St. Lawrence is far too valuable to place in harm’s way. He called for a ban on petrochemical development in the Gulf describing it as “biologically the most productive Canadian marine region” and stated that large scale pollution in any part of the Gulf would result in the eventual contamination of these important areas because our Gulf is a semi-enclosed inland sea with counter clockwise currents that only empties into the Atlantic once a year.

    Current Science and Knowledge Gaps in Gulf of St. Lawrence:

    According to DFO scientists, in their DFO Maritime Provinces Regional Habitat Status Report(2001) on the potential impact of oil and gas development in our Gulf, “Since the early ‘90’s an increased proportion of the biomass of many important groundfish species occurs in the Gulf…average groundfish densities in the GSL are among the highest in Atlantic Canada. The GSL is the main migration pathway between over-wintering grounds outside the Gulf and feeding grounds in the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence for many important commercial fish stocks like herring, mackerel and tuna. Cod, plaice, white hake, witch flounder etc. are all being strictly managed under the precautionary approach.
    In fact, over one million ton of mature marine fish funnel through the Gulf each spring and fall”.

    Based on this knowledge, common sense dictates that the only hope ground fish stocks have of recovering is if our governments and regulators apply the same precaution to the petroleum industry as they have with inshore fishers for the past 20 years, to protect threatened stocks.

    Within the context of this SEA and the risks of offshore development, we have to ask, if ground fish stocks are not vulnerable and threatened, why was our ground fishery placed under moratorium almost 20 years ago?

    DFO scientists state “that there are general knowledge gaps that impact our ability to adequately describe marine ecosystems and thereby make comprehensive assessments of impacts of human activities.”

    Let’s go through some of the facts that are known and put them in context of this proposed development:

    1) Our Gulf waters are virtually land-locked and covered in ice every winter. The limited back and forth tidal action of the Gulf coupled with high winds, makes it more vulnerable to accidents than the Scotian Shelf or Grand Banks. According to DFO scientists, “any impacts from oil and gas exploration activities will be amplified due to the small, shallow, semi-enclosed nature of the environment and the high biomass and diversity year round.”

    2) There are 4,700 licensed herring Captains in our Gulf with a total allowable catch of 100,000 metric ton. We are very concerned about the future of this fishery if Old Harry proceeds. Twenty years since the Exxon Valdez disaster, there is still no herring fishery where this oil spill happened in Alaska. We don’t understand how our government could even consider risking renewable living species and thousands of jobs. Adult herring spawn and feed in the spring and fall throughout the GSL. It is known that juvenile herring over winter in coastal areas of the GSL and Sydney Bite region near Old Harry. However, little is known about their life requirements outside the commercial fishing season. In fall, the larval period lasts about 4-5 months while spring herring spawn are at extremely fragile levels. For this reason alone, this exploration should not proceed.

    3)The strongest component of the recovering American plaice groundfish stock is in the GSL. According to DFO scientists, survey catch rates of American plaice in the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence are the highest in the Atlantic Zone.
    As this stock has been under the precautionary approach for 20 years, for this reason, this exploration and drilling should not proceed.

    4) According to DFO scientists, white hake started moving to the east GSL as the population declined in the early nineties. Hake migrates into the Gulf in May and June and out in November and December. Spawning occurs between June and September. The distribution of eggs and larvae are unknown. Because this stock is so fragile, this exploration should not proceed.

    5) Mackerel migrate into the GSL between late May and early July. According to DFO scientists, the GSL is the main spawning area for the northern stock component of mackerel in the western Atlantic. For this reason, this exploration should not proceed.

    6) The Gulf of St. Lawrence has the largest lobster production in the world. But there is a lack of scientific documentation on the spawning of many gulf stocks, their juveniles and the food chains for these species. According to DFO scientists,

    “There are no fishery independent surveys for species such as lobster, rock crab and sea scallops. This means that little or no information is available on distributions and movements outside of the commercial fishing period. The production of lobster larvae in the SGSL is among the highest of any region sampled in North America and … information is lacking on lobster… larval distribution and settlement.”

    Since the production of lobster larvae in the SGSL is among the highest of any region sampled in North America and… information is lacking on lobster… larval distribution and settlement” and lobster movements are unknown outside the commercial season and not enough is scientifically known about the impact of sound or drilling on lobster, doesn’t this sound like an enormous risk to take? For this reason alone, this exploration should not proceed.

    In fact, DFO scientists state that every month of the year molting, spawning, egg hatching, larvae, feeding, migration, juveniles, adults, and planktonic stages are happening. In other words, there is no safe time for exploration and drilling to take place. Period.

    Yet in spite of these sensitivities, in October 2010, the CNLOPB allowed seismic to proceed in the Laurentian Channel while endangered blue whale and cod were migrating through the seismic areas, in violation of domestic and international law. This is just one example of what can happen when unqualified provincial boards in conflicts of interest are given the mandate to protect our environment.

    While every single move inshore fishers make is scrutinized relentlessly before fishing communities are allowed near ancestral fishing grounds, where is the same microscopic scrutiny of the potential impacts of petroleum exploration and drilling on every single commercial species and their food chains in the Gulf of St. Lawrence?

    Petroleum companies don’t like to talk about juveniles. They acknowledge that seismic kills larvae and eggs; and they admit adults get scared and swim away; but cite studies that say they’ll come back afterwards.

    But the reality is, there have been no long term studies done on seismic blasting and exploratory drilling anywhere in the world.

    In the past 50 years, given the excessive petroleum exploration that has taken place all over the world, (that oil companies assure us is absolutely harmless to fish and proof of long term coexistence), doesn’t it seem strange that there have been virtually no long term study done on the effects of seismic and petroleum exploration, proving the oil companies position?

    Given the enormous, some would say, obscene wealth of the petroleum industry, you would think they would feel a responsibility to do some long term studies of their impact on our renewable resources. The fact they haven’t after all these years, raises doubt they ever will. WITHOUT SUCH KNOWLEDGE, IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO UNDERSTAND WHAT REALLY HAPPENS TO FISH, OR TO INVESTIGATE WAYS TO MITIGATE.


    Offshore regulators, the offshore petroleum industry and their industry based consultants say they will mitigate risks. But mitigation can only occur if enough science on each species exists to determine how to mitigate. According to DFO scientists, “there are knowledge gaps that impact our ability to adequately describe our marine ecosystems. With few exceptions, our knowledge of early life stages of marine organisms are poor. Little is known about the habitat requirements of all life stages.”

    How can the CNLOPB approve this exploration under the pretense that petroleum companies will effectively mitigate when they don’t have enough knowledge of marine species to determine what needs to be mitigated?

    You cannot mitigate the unknown. This is why the precautionary principle was implemented at the United Nations Convention on Biodiversity in 1992 and why it has been subsequently implemented into Canada’s Oceans Act – for situations such as this.

    The precautionary principle clearly states that where there is scientific uncertainty and the threat of harm, a precautionary approach must be applied. The precautionary principle also states that the burden of proof must be shifted away from those advocating protection toward those proposing an action that may be harmful.

    There is an absence of conclusive proof that short and long term effects of seismic blasting and exploratory drilling will be harmless to adult and juvenile fish and their food chains. Therefore, it is ill advised and irresponsible for the CNLOPB, their industry based consultants, oil companies and our governments to come before the Canadian people and tell us, that they can mitigate unknown risk. It is impossible to establish this beyond any reasonable doubt because of the lack of science and knowledge gaps and because of insufficient baseline data on the normal movement patterns and behavior of fish in and around Old Harry, Western Newfoundland and throughout the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

    Yet, the reality of this situation is that DFO has applied a precautionary approach of fisheries management in the Gulf of St. Lawrence for over two decades so vulnerable species can recover. But for the precautionary principle to work effectively, precaution must also apply to the petroleum industry.

    It is time that the CNLOPB and the government of Canada acknowledge that conservation measures don’t start and stop with regulation of the fishery. For this reason alone, this exploration cannot proceed.

    Let’s talk about co-existence. In the Gulf of St. Lawrence, we have been co-existing with industrial development for a long time. The Gulf NS Herring Federation, the Gulf NS Fleet Planning Board, Northumberland Fishermen’s Assn, New Brunswick, PEI and QC fishermen have consistently fought industrial threats to our ecosystems – pulp mill effluent, pesticides, pollution from the St. Lawrence river, rock quarries, the Tar Ponds, the Irving Whale are but a few examples. The reason our inshore fishery is as healthy as it is, is not a coincidence. For over thirty years, inshore fishers, First Nations and Canadian citizens have fought to protect our marine ecosystems.

    From all these battles we have learned that we have more co-existence with polluting industries in the Gulf of St. Lawrence than we want. Our stocks and ecosystems cannot handle any more degradation.

    The question remains, why have Gulf of St. Lawrence fishers sacrificed to conserve and rebuild vulnerable fish stocks if the petroleum industry is allowed to come in and take over our sea beds? The Georges Bank Review Panel determined that petroleum exploration and development is not worth the risk to corporate fishing grounds 100 miles offshore.

    So how can it be worth the risk in the midst of renewable fishery and tourism industries that tens of thousands depend on, along the most beautiful, pristine coastlines in the world in an inland sea considered one of the most precious ecosystems on this earth?

    How is this possible in a civilized, democratic nation in the twenty first century where our human and historic rights are supposed be protected?


    A decade ago, Deborah Walsh of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers(CAPP) testified at our Cape Breton Oil and Gas Public Review that the petroleum industry wants sensitive areas identified and placed out of bounds. Well, actions speak louder than words so let’s get on with it.

    A moratorium on offshore oil and gas development in the Gulf of St.Lawrence would be a good start. Even with a moratorium in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and Georges Bank, Canada will still have over 80% of its East coast waters open to offshore development.

    Is it too much to ask, that less than 20% of East Coast waters be protected for historic coastal communities and the renewable global food supply they generate in five Canadian provinces? Shouldn’t a responsible regulator consider this a reasonable request?

    The Fisheries Resource Conservation Council, in its year 2000 recommendations to the Fisheries Minister, asked for a halt on all petroleum exploration and development in the Gulf of St. Lawrence until proper study has taken place to determine the impacts on fish stocks.

    A decade ago, Canada’s Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans stated in their report on Canada’s Oceans Act(October 2001) that “it may be prudent to consider placing this region under an oil and gas moratorium similar to that on the Georges Bank region”. The Committee believes that, in the long term, no great harm would result from a moratorium as any oil and gas reserves are only likely to increase in value”.

    DFO scientists say this is a biologically diverse area where sensitive life stages of marine organisms are present year around.

    Because our Gulf is six times smaller than the Gulf of Mexico, the BP Macdondo oil spill disaster could have affected our entire Gulf. Let’s not forget, while the offshore oil industry knows how to get oil out of the bottom of our oceans, time and again, they have proven they don’t know how to prevent, stop or clean up oil spills, before it is too late.

    Remember Tony Hayward on tv two years ago telling the world that BP’s efforts to stop the monster spill in the Gulf of Mexico were ‘ONE HUGE EXPERIMENT?’

    We do not want our Gulf to become an offshore oil and gas experiment, risking the coastlines of half of the provinces in Canada.
    May we remind you that government and ‘regulators’ most vital role is to protect the public interest and common resources of the people, such as our air, water and food, like renewable Gulf fish that have sustained us for centuries.
    If governments would stop promoting industry at the expense of the vital resources we need as humans to inhabit this earth, our children’s future might be brighter.
    As things stand now, the Gulf NS Herring Federation, Save Our Seas and Shores Coalition, Coalition de St. Laurent, the David Suzuki Foundation, the Mi’gmawei Mawiomi Secretariat, the Assembly of First Nations QC and Labrador and the Assembly of First Nations nationally and the CSN (Confederation des syndicats nationaux), one of Quebec’s largest trade unions with over 300,000 members, are among dozens of groups calling for a moratorium in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, not only for ourselves, but for future generations.
    We hope the CNLOPB will uphold its legislated environmental responsibility to protect the Gulf of St. Lawrence’s highly sensitive marine waters from offshore oil and gas development.
    Respectfully submitted,
    Mary J. Gorman
    Save Our Seas and Shores Coalition
    Box 47
    RR#1 Merigomish,
    NS BOK 1GO

    Greg Egilsson
    Gulf NS Herring Federation
    Pictou NS B0K 1H0

    cc: Prime Minister Stephen Harper
    The Hon. Peter Kent, Minister of the Environment
    The Hon. Keith Ashfield, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans
    The Hon. Joe Oliver, Minister of Natural Resources
    The Hon. Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence
    Thomas Mulcair, MP, Leader of the Official Opposition
    Bob Rae, MP, Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada
    Elizabeth May,MP, Leader of the Green Party of Canada
    Premier Pauline Marois
    Premier Darrell Dexter
    Premier David Alward
    Premier Kathy Dunderdale
    Premier Robert Ghiz

  50. Mary Gorman | July 11, 2013 at 8:38 pm

    Scientists discover ocean noise can blow holes in heads of squid
    [Discovery News] – April 13, 2011 –

    Copyright © 2011 Discovery Communications, LLC.

    Thousands of Humboldt squid died off the coast of Oregon in 2004 and hundreds again in 2008.

    The culprit was originally considered a shift in deep-sea currents, but a new study pinpoints the physical trauma noise pollution can inflict on cephalopods and raises new concerns over the incidents of squid strandings.

    Dolphins and whales and other marine mammals aren’t the only sea life vulnerable to noise pollution from human activities.

    Earlier indications that squid might be susceptible to noise occurred in 2001 and again in 2003, when giant squid washed up along the shore of Asturias, Spain. After struggling to identify the reason, biologists eventually concluded that the deaths were most likely related to the presence of vessels using seismic air guns for geophysical prospecting of the seabed.

    A new study, published in the journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, has found that even low intensity noise can leave cephalopods damaged and likely to wash ashore.

    In the study, led by Michel André of the Technical University of Catalonia in Barcelona, biologists exposed 87 individual cephalopods of four species— Loligo vulgaris, Sepia officinalis, Octopus vulgaris and Illex coindeti—to short sweeps of relatively low intensity, low frequency sound between 50 and 400 Hertz (Hz). Then they examined the animals’ statocysts – fluid-filled, balloon-like structures that help these invertebrates maintain balance and position in the water.

    André and his colleagues found that, immediately following exposure to low frequency sound, the cephalopods showed hair cell damage within the statocysts. Over time, nerve fibers became swollen and, eventually, large holes appeared.

    “If the relatively low intensity, short exposure used in our study can cause such severe acoustic trauma, then the impact of continuous, high intensity noise pollution in the oceans could be considerable,” said André in a press release to announce the findings.

    Noise underwater travels far and fast and the ocean is full of natural sounds, such as snapping shrimp. Consequently, many underwater species have adept hearing that are extremely sensitive to the cocaphanie of noise, from boat engines to sonar, that humans are contributing to this marine symphony.

    “We can predict that, since the statocyst is responsible for balance and spatial orientation, noise-induced damage to this structure would likely affect the cephalopod’s ability to hunt, evade predators and even reproduce; in other words, this would not be compatible with life,” André said.

    The discovery raises questions, he continued about just how widespread the impact of noise pollution on marine life might be:

    ‘Is noise pollution capable of impacting the entire web of ocean life? What other effects is noise having on marine life, beyond damage to auditory reception systems? And just how widespread and invasive is sound pollution in the marine environment?”

  51. Mary Gorman | July 16, 2013 at 5:04 pm

    You must read this terrific article on Farley Mowat who will appear in Green Heroes “Saving Oceans on TVO July 16 and July 21 2013

    Published Sunday, Jul. 14 2013, 7:33 PM EDT

    St. Lawrence oil and gas well proposal has Farley Mowat ‘hopping mad’

    Gloria Galloway

    OTTAWA — The Globe and Mail

    Published Sunday, Jul. 14 2013, 7:33 PM EDT

    There is no denying the amount of fight still left in Farley Mowat. Just let him get going on the “evil forces” who are sacrificing the environment in their lust for oil.

    The writer, conservationist and conversationalist, who completed what he declared to be his final book nearly three years ago at the age of 89, is irate. A proposal to put an offshore oil and gas well in the Gulf of St. Lawrence will not go away, and Mr. Mowat is aghast at the depths of human folly.

    Back in 1984, he wrote a book called Sea of Slaughter that detailed a litany of environmental wrongs in the gulf and on the Atlantic seaboard. The looming development, known as the Old Harry Prospect, holds the potential to unleash more of the same, Mr. Mowat said this week in a telephone interview from Cape Breton, where he and his wife, Claire, spend their summers.

    “I was so appalled by what I discovered when I wrote this book, I could hardly believe that human beings could be so thoughtless, so destructive, so devilish, just plain devilish, all in pursuit of money,” he said of Sea of Slaughter. “It took me five years to write the damn thing, and I have never been able to fully reread it since, I get so upset about it.”

    The spit and vinegar that surfaces whenever Mr. Mowat broaches environmental matters is what prompted those who oppose drilling in the gulf to enlist him in their effort – that and, of course, his literary celebrity.

    The Old Harry is a 30-kilometre stretch of the Laurentian Channel off the southwest coast of Newfoundland that could be the largest untapped oil and gas reserve in Eastern Canada. Corridor Resources, a Canadian oil and natural gas company, has held licences to assess its potential since 1996, and wants to drill an exploratory well by 2014.

    The name Old Harry was taken from a settlement on the nearby Magdalen Islands. “The oil companies mistakenly – and I think this is wickedly sardonic – have called it Old Harry because they liked the sound of Old Harry. It has such a familiar, pleasant, uncle-y name,” Mr. Mowat said. But Old Harry is sailors’ soubriquet for Satan, he said. “They don’t realize that, what they are doing, is they are calling their company after the devil’s own domain.”

    Mr. Mowat is one of the subjects of Tuesday’s season-ending episode of Cinefocus Canada’s Green Heroes, a TVO series that profiles environmental luminaries. Another is Mary Gorman, the fisherman’s wife turned activist who conscripted Mr. Mowat in her fight against the Old Harry.

    Ms. Gorman and her Save Our Seas and Shores Coalition have been challenging the project with everything they can muster, arguing that a spill in the Gulf of St. Lawrence could cause a disaster on a scale even larger than the explosion at the Deepwater Horizon rig in 2010 that killed 11 people and spewed oil into the Gulf of Mexico for 87 days.

    Mr. Mowat and his wife summered near the Old Harry Prospect for several years, so when Ms. Gorman called for help three years ago, “I consulted myself and decided I owed something physically to that region,” he said. His environmental foundation donated some money to the cause. And he lent his own voice in opposition.

    After the Deepwater catastrophe, “the almost certainty that it would happen again sooner or later in the Gulf of St. Lawrence was really enough to fire me to passionate action,” Mr. Mowat said, although he concedes he may not be responding now with the vigour of his earlier years. “At 90, when this all started, I was reaching my peak. And now I have passed that.”

    It is true that, when he talks to a reporter, he has to sit to collect his thoughts. He also is unavailable in the afternoons because he likes his naps. But don’t think he is ready to lie down in the face of what he considers to be environmental sin.

    “Not only did Farley fight for Canada in World War Two, he has been fighting ever since to protect our world’s vast oceans that were once brimming with wildlife,” Ms. Gorman said. “He will go down in history, not only as a literary icon, but as one of the world’s earliest and bravest environmentalists, who understands how dependent we humans are on healthy oceans, for oxygen and for life on earth.”

    Corridor opted not to comment on the statements Mr. Mowat made for this article. Who wants to challenge Farley Mowat at 92?

    But Mr. Mowat does not need an opponent in his ring to come out swinging.

    “We don’t need any more oil than we’ve got,” he said. “We’re up to our ass in oil of one type or another – fracking and bracking and all the rest of it – and freight cars full of it coming down on little Quebec towns.”

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