Sunday, July 18, 2010

The reviews are in

The Star's editorial board is off base in suggesting that nobody else is asking the same tough questions. But it's absolutely right to worry that the Harper Cons have turned Canada into the destination of choice for oil companies who don't want the hassle of protecting against the dangers of offshore drilling:
Unlike the U.S., Canada shows few signs of grappling with the risks of deep drilling, the gaps in regulatory enforcement, and the grey areas of corporate liability.

The contrast between our two countries is increasingly stark: While Canada’s political leaders project complacency, President Barack Obama swiftly imposed a moratorium on new offshore drilling; ordered sweeping regulatory reviews; and extracted a $20 billion fund from BP for its liability.

For multinational oil giants, there is one obvious conclusion: It’s now easier and cheaper to drill offshore in Canada than in the U.S.
In recent years, the National Energy Board — which regulates drilling in Arctic waters — has weakened the rules that specified the equipment and methods needed to prevent blowouts, acquiescing to industry pressure for more flexible procedures. Now, heeding public concerns, the NEB is holding a fresh round of public hearings for a review of offshore drilling regulations.

This week was the deadline for submissions in a process that will pit the public and environmental interest against a strong industry push to be exempted from drilling a relief well in the same season as an exploratory well is started. Coming so soon after the massive gulf cleanup — which took place in warm waters, near well-served ports, surrounded by large fleets of vessels — the industry’s demands for even weaker rules in the remote, freezing Arctic is a reminder that there are still battles to be fought to protect Canadian waters from the illusion of risk-free offshore drilling.

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