Groups fighting the approval of Canada’s first deepwater offshore oil project aren’t backing down. On Friday, they submitted an appeal after their court case against Bay du Nord was dismissed in June.

In March, lawyers from Ecojustice on behalf of Sierra Club Canada, Équiterre and Mi'gmawe'l Tplu'taqnn Incorporated (MTI) — a group representing eight Mi’gmaq communities in New Brunswick — said Environment and Climate Change Minister Steven Guilbeault didn’t have the full picture when considering the project’s environmental effects and that the project was unlawfully approved. The environmental assessment he based his approval on was missing downstream emissions, which happen when the oil is burned, and ignored the potential effects marine shipping activity could have on the environment and Mi'kmaq rights, the groups maintain.

In his dismissal, Federal Court Justice Russel Zinn said it isn’t the court’s job to decide if approving Bay du Nord “was wise or in keeping with Canadian policy objectives.” Rather, he said the court looked at whether the decision was reasonable, “not whether it is the right decision.”

Concerns around consultation and the effects Bay du Nord could have on marine life and the environment “have not changed,” said Dean Vicaire, executive director of MTI.

"This is why an appeal is necessary. We will do whatever we can to protect the waters and the species that are culturally significant to our communities,” he said.

Regardless, it remains unclear whether the Bay du Nord project will proceed. Equinor, the majority owner and operator of the project, announced in May that it was putting the project on hold for up to three years. However, a few months later, it hired a drilling rig to look for more oil in the Flemish Pass, the site of Bay du Nord.

The groups fighting the approval said potential findings could “expand Bay du Nord even further and push the project past the one-billion-barrel mark.”

In a statement to Canada’s National Observer, Equinor said it has received notice of the appeal, and notes it has followed all regulatory requirements for developing offshore oil.

“Equinor appreciates that there are differing views in the energy debate — something we experience in Norway and everywhere we have activity,” said Alex Collins, head of public affairs and communications for Equinor Canada.

Groups fighting the approval of Canada’s first deepwater offshore oil project aren’t backing down. On Friday, they submitted an appeal after their court case against Bay du Nord was dismissed in June.

“Our focus is on the collaborative effort with partners and local authorities to now optimize the Bay du Nord project towards an investment decision in the future.”

Environment and Climate Change Canada said it is not appropriate to comment on active litigation, but it is “confident that its decision-making for the project was appropriate and consistent with its legal obligations.”

The groups say their appeal is especially timely, noting the millions of people who took part in the global climate strikes over the past few days. Hundreds gathered specifically in St. John's, N.L., where they urged the provincial government to stop its plan to double offshore oil production by the end of the decade.

“From record-breaking heat waves and wildfires to tornadoes and other extreme weather events, communities across the country have been feeling the impacts of climate change first-hand,” said Ecojustice lawyer Ian Miron.

“Bay du Nord will lock Newfoundland, and Canada as a whole, into further dependence on fossil fuels at a time when the science demands we transition away from fossil fuels.”

Keep reading

Donate to Eocjustice , Environmental Defence and or Raven Trust who have intervenor status in these court challenges. It is money well spent!
there is a rally and march in Toronto on September 27 at noon at the Legislature to demand Ontario update its mining laws that currently still permit staking claims on Unceeded Indigenous Lands with no requirement to consult First Nations! Under Ford, thousands of such permits have been granted .

we need to know at least what is being done “ in our name”.

All the best to EcoJustice.

If the project is approved despite the legal challenges and evidence that climate change is wreaking annual havoc all over now and is gaining momentum, pure economics is waiting in the wings to wreak its own havoc on the fossil fuel industry.

Though its momentum is not proportionate with climate-caused storms and drought, the investments in decarbonization, renewables, EVs, energy efficiency, etc. are catching up fast. Bay du Nord was originally expected to be completed three years after final approval, just as solar and wind are mushrooming and gasoline tanks are disappearing.

There are many prognosticators who have done the research and have concluded that renewables are now unstoppable and too disruptive to sustain the notion that fossil fuel production can be expanded, let alone maintained for much longer. The IEA has the data that backs up the assertion that fossil fuel demand will peak by 2030. With sinking demand for its products, projects like Bay du Nord and the oil sands will wither regardless of the joy of their cheerleaders upon approval.

Topping the economic evidence is the demographics of the world's second largest market, China, which saw its population peak in 2021. It's plateaued now with the edge of the cliff approaching. The decline is estimated to reach 50% by mid-century. Population decline is also becoming a reality in the West.

World investment and demographics ... you'd think the backers of new fossil fuel projects would have done their research, or at least question their assumptions. This decade is building to be very momentous all around in several different ways, both good and bad.

This doesn't mean that we can be complacent. Adaptation is necessary at the widest national and international scales, as is individual change at the micro scale with respect to decarbonizing our homes and lifestyles. Do what you can within your particular budget framework. Every little bit counts.