The National Energy Board (NEB) is continuing its undemocratic approach to pleasing its master: the oil industry. Most recently, the Calgary-based rubber stamp is trying to use the summer to hide yet another concession. On July 11th the NEB said it was going consider a request from Imperial Oil and Chevron to weaken the rules for offshore drilling in the Arctic and gave the public until August 1st to comment (some strong arguing won an extra two weeks).
Right now, the NEB is quietly preparing to drop a key safety feature – requiring relief wells. We don’t yet know what Imperial Oil and Chevron plan to replace the relief wells with, but whatever it is it has never been tested in the deep waters of the Beaufort Sea in -30 degree temperature. The NEB also intends to make a ruling before any environmental assessment can be undertaken. Even with the limitation of the 2012 omnibus bill-degraded Environmental Assessment Act, it is still a better forum to examine important safety issues than the NEB boardroom. What the NEB is entertaining might very well lead to an ecological disaster in the Canadian Arctic where Imperial Oil and Chevron want to operate outside the rules for drilling. They simply want to avoid the cost of drilling relief wells and, predictably, the NEB is seriously considering it. It’s a case of pinching pennies that could risk billions.
And why the dead-of-summer timetable? The oil companies want the NEB to take rules on relief wells (and the issue itself) off the table now so they won’t have to face public scrutiny.
Your support can help us continue our work to convince the NEB to do the job it is mandated to do: protecting the interests of Canadians and one of those interests is a pristine and healthy Beaufort Sea. The NEB has constructed a deliberately complex process designed to reduce public participation. The convoluted scheme can be found here, but rather than send you to that rat hole of techno babble I’m suggesting we simply demand a halt to the proceedings.
The reality is the NEB should NOT reconsider its rules just to please the oil industry. Please share this message through Facebook and Twitter.