"Oops!" Ain't Gonna Cut It!

It appears nothing has been learned from the disastrous oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

The Federal Government just announced that it has removed the requirement for environmental assessment for exploratory wells drilled in licenses areas, after the first well in any given "area" is drilled.

In Atlantic Canada, just what constitutes an "area" will be left to the discretion of offshore boards that are already in a conflict of interest position as promoters of development and protectors of marine habitat.

Seismic surveys are now also exempt from environmental assessment altogether, in spite of requests from scientists and citizens groups like Sierra Club to put seismic blasting back on the list. Seismic testing can injure and even kill whales, fish larvae and alter the migratory routes of species. Seismic surveys have been linked to reductions in fish catches, as fish flee areas being blasted by seismic air guns.

As oil companies drill deeper and deeper and try to tap into new areas to find oil – like our North and the Gulf of St. Lawrence - rules should become tighter not weaker.

Unfortunately, in its mad rush to allow oil and gas companies into the Gulf of St. Lawrence and the North, we are leaving ourselves open to massive amounts of damage by not carefully assessing the risks and listening to science and community concerns.