The Newfoundland and Labrador Oil & Gas Industries Association (Noia) has broken its silence on the federal government’s proposed environmental assessment legislation and it appears they, like many, have more questions than comments.
“What will be the role of the CNLOPB? What will be the role of the new Impact Assessment Agency office? What is the process for determining designated projects on the project list? How and when will the new regional assessments be conducted? These are only a few of the many questions we need answers to,” CEO Charlene Johnson said in a statement from the association.
“The last thing needed now is the unknown and uncertainty this new process brings and the potential slow down in exploration because of added bureaucracy. We must remain globally competitive.”
Under current assessment laws, the Canada-Newfoundland Offshore Petroleum Board provides advice to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency — which under the new rules will be renamed the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada — the main body responsible for all federal assessments.
Under the new proposed laws, these boards would have direct input as two out of five members on the panels appointed to review offshore oil and gas projects would come from offshore petroleum boards.
That said, Noia feels the role of the CNLOPB in the environmental assessment process remains unclear, as does Ottawa’s suggestion of the new agency and the board working jointly.
“Does jointly mean equally as it was previously,” Johnson asked. “Let’s not forget there is already a joint process in place – it’s called the CNLOPB. The federal government seems to want a joint process with an already joint process.”
Noia also expressed its disappointment that the federal government doesn’t plan on reinstating the C-NLOPB’s responsible authority status that was stripped in 2010.
“The CNLOPB, through the Atlantic Accord, gave Newfoundland and Labrador equal management of the province’s offshore resources. Last week’s announcement was a missed opportunity to right this wrong by fully restoring that authority to the C-NLOPB now.”
As the legislation still has to be passed in the House of Commons, it could be some time before the new rules come into effect.
In the meantime, Johnson indicated that Noia will be fully engaged in the process.
“Our primary goal is the continued exploration of our offshore and we will hold governments’ feet to the fire to ensure just that.”