Green Party Leader Elizabeth May, MP Saanich-Gulf Islands, today expressed her opposition to Bill S-15, designed to convert Sable Island into a national park.
“Quite simply, this Bill will allow oil and gas exploration inside a National Park and drilling, including fracking, underneath Sable Island itself, said May. “I’m disappointed that this has already passed the Nova Scotia Legislature, but we will absolutely not support S-15 until these provisions are removed.”
Oversight for Sable Island is divided between Nova Scotia and Ottawa. Both levels of government have introduced identical legislation to create a national park on this wild, iconic island. Nova Scotia’s bill received Royal Assent in early May and the Harper Conservatives have introduced time allocation to make S-15 law before the summer recess.
After years of negotiation, ExxonMobil agreed to give up its decades-old rights to drill on the island, but it insisted on keeping its horizontal drilling rights to natural gas below the island one nautical-mile away and beyond. It would also retain the right to do seismic testing on the island.
Furthermore, Bill S-15 would give the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board, whose mandate is to expand oil and gas production, unprecedented power to make regulations inside a National Park, setting a dangerous precedent and undermining the integrity of our entire national parks system.
“Local environmentalists and the general public are against oil and gas exploration and extraction on Sable Island, especially once it’s a National Park,” said May. “We all want to see Sable Island protected, but it is tortured logic to think that we would protect this rare and pristine area by allowing oil exploration. We must get this legislation right.”
There is pressure to establish a new identity for Sable lsland because the Canadian Coast Guard is withdrawing its services and there is no other government agency to replace it. As a national park, Sable Island would come under the jurisdiction and protection of Parks Canada which has been weakened by the Harper Conservatives.