A federal decision on the fate of the Bay du Nord oil and gas project off the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador in eastern Canada has been delayed for 40 days to mid-April – after an earlier 90-day extension from December 2021 – to give Steven Guilbeault, Canada’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change, more time to review the project’s potential environmental impact.
In August 2021, the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada issued a 237-page environmental assessment report on the proposed development. That report stated, “The Agency concludes that the Bay du Nord Development Project is not likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects, taking into account the implementation of mitigation measures.”
However, on March 2, 118 environmental and citizens’ groups across Canada sent a letter to the federal government urging it to cancel the project. Another letter from 81 international organizations was delivered the same day; it said that Canada’s credibility as a climate leader would be compromised if the project is approved.
Further, in January, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) issued a review of Equinor’s environmental impact statement (EIS) for the Bay du Nord project that found the EIS to “lack credibility.”
DFO said “the EIS is not considered a reliable source of information for decision-making processes.”
Guilbeault must consider this complex contradictory information in making his decision on the project.
According to CBC News, the Bay du Nord project has “caused a division within Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s cabinet,” with some cabinet members focused on the economic benefits of the project and others on the risks of environmental and reputational damage.