If there is a spill once Canada’s first deepwater oil drilling site is operational, it would spell catastrophe for a multitude of species, as well as the surrounding Mi’gmaq communities who use the animals for food, social and ceremonial.
That is in part why this week Mi’gmawe’l Tplu’taqnn Inc. (MTI), an organization representing eight Mi’gmaq communities in New Brunswick, announced that it would join an existing lawsuit against the federal government for his approval of the North Bay site. The case states that the project could harm the environment, was approved illegally, and should be annulled.
MTI co-chair Rebecca Knockwood, head of the Amlamgog, noted the impact the project could have on Atlantic salmon, currently listed as “endangered” under Canada’s Species at Risk Act.
“Our relationship with salmon is deep and historical, as it is central to cultural expression. The continuation of the practice of salmon fishing through traditional means creates opportunities for knowledge sharing and expression of indigenous values for the community,” said Knockwood.
“We harvest salmon as part of our inherent rights to food, social and ceremonial needs.”
Another shortcoming of the approval was the lack of meaningful consultation with indigenous communities, said MTI chief George Ginnish of Natoaganeg. He said the evaluation process included “rushed deadlines and lack of notice and opportunities to be included at key moments.”
In April, Environment and Climate Change Minister Steven Guilbeault approved Bay du Nord, saying it was ecologically sound. He determined that the project, about 500 kilometers east of St. John’s, “is not likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects.”
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Ecojustice, on behalf of Equiterre and the Sierra Club Canada, filed a lawsuit against the project shortly after approval. He will argue in Federal Court that Bay du Nord could harm the environment, meaning that Guilbeault illegally approved the project.
Norwegian energy giant Equinor and its sister company Husky (owned by Cenovus) will operate the Bay du Nord project, which includes numerous exploration and discovery licences, the creation of a floating oil production station and the drilling of up to 40 wells in the Flamenco Pass Cuenca. Guilbeault’s statement on the environmental decision was released with conditions, including a requirement that Equinor develop a “marine mammal and sea turtle monitoring plan” and a requirement that the project have net-zero emissions by 2050.
Critics were quick to point out that there is no such thing as a “net zero” fossil fuel project and that even if companies could make their products zero emissions, which so far none have, all oil and gas produce emissions when they are produced. they burn So-called Scope 3, or tailpipe, emissions are not factored into government calculations. Lawyers will argue that it is misleading and illegal not to include those broadcasts.
On Tuesday, Mi’gmawe’l Tplu’taqnn Inc., an organization representing eight Mi’gmaq communities in New Brunswick, announced that it would join the lawsuit against the federal government over its approval of the Bay du Nord oil project.
In response to MTI joining the lawsuit, Equinor said they have “all the regulatory requirements for offshore field development in Canada. Equinor appreciates that there are different points of view in the energy debate, something we experience in Norway and everywhere we are active.”
Environment and Climate Change Canada said it had no further comment and referred to Canada’s Impact Assessment Agency, which did not respond in time for publication.
“If the federal government continues to neglect its duty to meaningfully consult with indigenous communities and chooses not to respect the need to implement our treaty rights in a way that respects our rights to self-determination, they will continue to systematically exclude us from fishing and [the] right to a moderate livelihood while seriously jeopardizing our traditional lands and waters,” reads part of an MTI statement.