Prime Minister Harper's offshore drilling safeguards inadequate says Jack Layton
Conservatives deregulating rather than improving safety
Edited by John Stokes
OTTAWA – The Conservatives’ ongoing deregulation and their blind faith in promises from friends in the oil industry are placing Canadian waters increasing at risk of a disaster on the scale of what we see today in the Gulf of Mexico, says New Democrat Energy Critic Nathan Cullen.
“Tens of thousands of barrels of oil are pouring into the ocean each day. This tragedy has been a wakeup call around the world, but the Conservatives haven’t heard the bell yet,” said Cullen. “We’ve seen that even with the latest technology, deepwater drilling is extremely risky, and if it goes wrong, Canadians will be left to clean up the mess.”
Spill response resources in Canada are minimal compared to the scope of the massive multi-agency effort underway in the United States, and the penalties to cover clean up and compensation in Canada also fall short. Oil companies drilling offshore are only liable for $40 million in damages even though the costs will be many times higher. Instead of improving the situation, the Conservatives are gutting the Canadian Environmental Protection Act and handing assessments of energy projects to the industry-friendly National Energy Board.
“If we had a serious accident anywhere in our coastal waters, Canada would be left scrambling to respond, and a terrible situation would be made worse,” said New Democrat critic for Northern Development Dennis Bevington. “And a spill in the Arctic would be an unmitigated disaster. This government has been pushing for new drilling before we have a plan in place to deal with the consequences.”
Traditional cleanup methods used by industry are seriously hampered by Arctic temperatures and ice, which clog up mechanical collectors, make chemical dispersants useless and create a nightmare scenario for crews.
“We don’t have the resources to deal with a serious spill, and at the same time the government is working to weaken our environmental protections across the board,” said Cullen. “Their ideology is all about deregulation and letting industry make-up and enforce their own standards in spite of the risks to Canadians.”
“We need to act now to strengthen our laws to prevent disaster and protect Canadians and our coastline,” said Cullen.
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