TORONTO – Environmental groups took legal action today against the renewal of an exploration licence at Old Harry to protect the Gulf of St Lawrence — home to more than 4,000 species including blue whale, salmon and cod — from unlawful oil exploration.
Ecojustice lawyers, on behalf of Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (SNAP Québec), Attention FragÎles, Nature Québec, David Suzuki Foundation and Sierra Club Canada Foundation filed a lawsuit today in response to the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board’s unlawful decision to reissue an exploration licence to Corridor Resources Inc.
Corridor’s licence was first issued in 2008 with an explicit nine-year cap that prohibits further extensions. The licence should have expired last January. Despite this very clear legal constraint, the Board unlawfully replaced Corridor’s old licence on Jan. 15, 2017.
“The government should be following its own rules, not making unusual exceptions for oil companies that put communities and ecosystems in harm’s way,” said Ian Miron, Ecojustice lawyer. “One must only look as far as the BP disaster in the Gulf of Mexico to understand the menace a spill would have in an environment like the Gulf of St. Lawrence, where ice-cover conditions would make clean-up difficult or impossible.”
“For seven years, the St. Lawrence Coalition has fought to stave off exploration on the Old Harry prospect and is asking for a moratorium on oil and gas exploration in all of the Gulf of St. Lawrence” said Sylvain Archambault of SNAP Québec.
“With the potential arrival of the oil and gas industry in the Gulf, concerns run very high, knowing that a spill could impact Newfoundland and its neighbouring provinces," said Danielle Giroux of Attention FragÎles.
“The Gulf of St. Lawrence should be protected from harm, not exposed to risks posed by special treatment for industry,” said Christian Simard of Nature Québec.
“The Gulf serves as a migratory route for numerous species of whales and fishes such as the wild Atlantic salmon, a food source of cultural importance for Indigenous peoples. The Gulf also supports fishing and tourism industries totaling over two billion dollars,” said Karel Mayrand of the David Suzuki Foundation.
"Coastal communities that depend on the health of the Gulf of St. Lawrence for their survival should not be at the mercy of risky oil exploration projects. In addition, the endangered blue whale makes its home in the Gulf. The number of blue whales and calves is dangerously low. We are deeply concerned that this species will be wiped out with further industrial development in the Gulf," said Gretchen Fitzgerald of Sierra Club Canada Foundation.
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