OTTAWA/TRADITIONAL, UNCEDED TERRITORY OF THE ALGONQUIN ANISHNAABEG PEOPLE – Équiterre, Sierra Club Canada Foundation, and Mi’gmawe’l Tplu’taqnn Incorporated (MTI), represented by Ecojustice, are disappointed with the decision from the Federal Court to dismiss their case challenging the Minister of Environment and Climate Change’s decision to approve Bay du Nord — a controversial $16-billion oil and gas project proposed off the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador.
The environmental and Indigenous groups leading this case are exploring whether to appeal this decision to ensure the impact of Bay du Nord will be properly scrutinized before this project can move forward.
James Gunvaldsen Klaassen, Ecojustice lawyer, said:
“Just days after the United Nations issued a statement that called further approval of fossil fuel extraction projects ‘moral and economic madness,’ Minister of Environment and Climate Change Steven Guilbeault approved the Bay du Nord project.
“In recent weeks, communities across Canada have witnessed the devastating impact of the climate crisis. Wildfires have forced thousands from their homes, and the resulting smoke has impacted millions.
“Ultimately, massive new fossil fuel projects like Bay du Nord should not proceed and can only cause great harm to our climate and our environment.”
Gretchen Fitzgerald, National Programs Director, Sierra Club Canada Foundation said:
“After the last few weeks of climate fires across the country we are more determined than ever that this project should not proceed. With every new barrel of oil we pump up and burn, the effects of exceeding safe climate limits – like forest fires and heat waves – get worse. We know we have a few short years to cut climate pollution. The recent announcement that Equinor will delay its decision on the project another three years shows how risky this project always was from an economic perspective. In three years time the movement toward safer, cleaner energy will be even more advanced and the climate crisis will be even more apparent to all. The courts have failed us this round, but we and our members and allies plan to use the precious months ahead to protect our ocean and climate from this terrible project.”
Colleen Thorpe, Executive Director, Équiterre said:
“The Bay du Nord project would fuel the climate crisis and threaten biodiversity. That’s why we challenged the government’s approval in federal court. The judge’s decision doesn’t change the environmental risks of the project. Equinor recently voted to put the project on hold for 3 years due to financial and market risks. These risks will not go away. We will continue to mobilize against new fossil fuel projects.”
Dean Vicaire, Executive Director of MTI, said:
“We still believe joining this legal challenge was the right thing to do. The Government needs to know that they have to do better consulting with Indigenous Communities. We still have concerns with the Bay du Nord development and will watch this project closely. We will do what we can to protect the Atlantic Salmon from any effects this project may have on their migration and numbers.”
- The rapid expansion of oil and gas drilling off the eastern coast of Newfoundland and Labrador, including Bay du Nord, poses significant threats to the climate, marine ecosystems, and the communities that depend on them.
- Over its lifetime, the $16-billion project is expected to produce up to one billion barrels of oil, which will in turn generate about 400 million tonnes of GHGs — that’s the equivalent of running 100 coal facilities for a year or adding 89 million fossil fuel cars to the road for a year.
- The Bay du Nord approval required that the project meet 137 conditions — including a condition that the project be net-zero on emissions by 2050. This target, however, fails to account for the massive downstream emissions the project will generate.
- When assessing the likely climate impacts of a large fossil fuel project like Bay du Nord, all project emissions must be assessed, including direct, and downstream emissions.
- In 2021, the International Energy Agency found there is no path to net-zero emissions by 2050 that includes the continued approval of new fossil fuel projects. The Canadian government considered this report in its decision to refuse approval to other fossil fuel projects (such as the Énergie Saguenay LNG project) but has disregarded climate science in its approval of Bay du Nord.
- The added shipping traffic the project would generate could have detrimental impacts on the constitutionally protected fishing rights of Indigenous communities, and on species at risk and marine biodiversity off the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador including endangered cod, Atlantic salmon, humpback whales, corals and sponges.
- A DFO Science report on the Bay du Nord project identified numerous threats to ocean life, including risk of an uncontrolled blowout.
- Recent experience shows that spills in the region are commonplace and hard to recover from. For example, in November 2018, the White Rose field offshore production facility spilled 250,000 litres into the ocean; no oil was ever recovered.