Offshore Drilling in New Beluga Park Shows Broken System

OTTAWA – Yesterday, Mr. Harper announced the creation of a new Marine Protected Area in the Beaufort Sea but failed to mention that the government plans to allow offshore oil drilling within it.

New Democrat Natural Resources Critic Nathan Cullen (Skeena-Bulkley Valley) suggested that this is clear evidence that our offshore drilling rules need to be overhauled.

“Mr. Harper seems to think he can change the channel on risky drilling with a park that won’t actually protect anything” said Cullen “It is cynical politics and doesn’t hide the fact that this government puts big oil profits ahead of the environment.”

The proposed park is home to what the Prime Minister described as “one of the world’s largest populations of summering beluga whales” but it is also where offshore oil and gas companies currently have the rights to drill. A regulatory impact analysis statement shows that the Government plans to allow offshore drilling within and surrounding the park.

“Even a minor spill could have serious impacts on the beluga habitat” said Cullen. “A major one would wipe out the entire area.  Canadians should be very concerned that their government hands out oil licenses in such sensitive ecosystems without strong rules to protect the environment.”

“This is another clear example that our regulatory system for risky oil is broken. Environmental conditions need to be considered before any lease is granted” said Cullen. “This government refuses to even look at fixing it even though Parliament has ordered it too and Canadians demand it.”

A motion by NDP Environment Critic, Linda Duncan, calling for a complete review of all laws and policies governing non-conventional oil and gas developments across the country received the approval of both the Government and opposition parties in the spring session of Parliament. Both NDP Leader Jack Layton and Ms. Duncan have laid out options for the government to consider in conducting such a review. The government has yet to act.