Monday, May 17, 2010

Good News - Canada and Nova Scotia Extend Georges Bank Moratorium to 2015

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Premier's Office
May 13, 2010 11:44 AM The governments of Nova Scotia and Canada will extend the moratorium on oil and gas exploration and drilling on Georges Bank to Dec. 31, 2015.

"We know that any decision on whether or not to lift the moratorium on Georges Bank could have significant economic and environmental impacts on the province, the country, and beyond," Premier Darrell Dexter said. "It is critical that government understands these impacts before such a decision is made.

"We would want solid science and a full public review before making any decision to lift the moratorium. I have heard the public's concerns and I am confident that extending the moratorium will put people's minds at ease."

When the moratorium was first extended in 1999, the federal and provincial governments committed to try to work with U.S. agencies, as Georges Bank crosses international borders. The United States has also opted to ban oil and gas exploration on Georges Bank.

Both levels of government also agreed to gather and develop information on the delicate Georges Bank ecosystem, particularly about fishing and petroleum activities and technologies.

The research only began recently, and preliminary results suggest there will be more work to do.

The three-year extension announced today, May 13, will allow this process to be completed, as critical research results are expected later this year. Government will then assess the findings and focus on filling research gaps.

"We value and respect our ocean ecosystem," said Energy Minister Bill Estabrooks. "We also value and respect the men and women who work there, in both the fishing and petroleum industries. In order to make the right decision, we need more time to get the best scientific information available."

"The government of Canada is committed to the responsible management of Canada's offshore resources," said Christian Paradis, Minister of Natural Resources Canada. "We will continue to work closely with the province of Nova Scotia on studies and decisions relating to Georges Bank."

Mr. Estabrooks said there may be important lessons to learn from the Gulf of Mexico drilling disaster.

A preliminary review is researching potential environmental and socio-economic impacts of offshore petroleum activities on Georges Bank, if permitted. Another study is assessing technologies and practices in offshore exploration, drilling and production that have been developed since the 1999 Georges Bank review.

Additional research is using modern software to reinterpret seismic information to better understand the resource potential. Fisheries and Oceans Canada is also conducting research.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Poking (50,686) Holes in Mother Earth

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Here is an astounding map showing the wells and bore holes in the Gulf of Mexico. It's little wonder that there are accidents. As Joyce Merrill said in her incisive article "We are on a very fast track to Hell."

And now we are planning to open up Georges Bank and the Scotian Shelf. More to follow. 

Want to get "up close and personal" with the wells and bore holes in the Gulf of Mexico? Go here and zoom in ... astounding!

Opinion - We are on a very fast track to hell itself

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The word is out there now on the true costs of fossil fuel addiction. It runs the gamut from deaths from gas explosions, deaths on oil rigs, deaths in coal mines, to major environmental catastrophes such as the oil spill in the Gulf which is in the process of destroying the local environment and economy and threatens to spread further, and the Alaskan Exxon Valdez spill, the destruction of the Niger Delta for export of LNG, the costs of global warming- which affects the entire planet, to the costs of the Oil Wars in the Middle East and the related costs of destabilization of global relationships ( ie: the World Trade Center ). How much does this add up to? What is the bottom line? Is it enough to get us to look seriously at changing our life styles to one more sustainable and to our working towards free renewable energy?

Addiction is a terrible thing, and we are addicted in the worst sense of the word. We are addicted to our outdated world view and our old materialistic habits and we resist sacrifice of the smallest sort. I first understood the power of addiction when I heard stories of children sold by parents for money to feed their heroin habits. Yet we are trashing the globe and sacrificing our children’s future to feed our fossil fuel addiction. How is that different? Where is the evidence for our claims of being an intelligent species?

What does it take to convince enough people that we are on a very fast track to hell itself on this planet? Massive disruptions will come faster and faster and on a more and more major scale because that is the nature of explosive population growth combined with explosive exploitation of resources- combined with unethical practices. Like true addicts we are in the process of throwing it all away for the quick fix.

We need a revolution in our world view and we need it right now. We need to wake up and see that this planet is the true home, the only possible home, of the human race. We need to see, value and understand the natural world and understand how we can work in harmony with the resources of the globe instead of exploiting them. We need a viewpoint that sees and understands the true costs of our actions. Only the mentally disturbed do not recognize the costs of their own actions. We need a revival of moral and ethical relationships within our communities, our countries and towards our environment. Nothing less than that will give our children a recognizable future world.

Joyce Morrell, Campobello

Photo Credit;

Saturday, May 15, 2010

LNG in Quoddy - One down, two to go, Robert Godfrey says

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One of three LNG projects in trouble Published Thursday May 13th, 2010
Derwin Gowan

ST. STEPHEN - One down, two to go, Robert Godfrey says.

Robert Godfrey

The researcher with Save Passamaquoddy Bay 3-Nation Alliance said in an interview the Quoddy Bay LNG project, to build a liquefied natural gas terminal on Passamaquoddy tribal land in Maine across from Deer Island, is dead.

Quoddy Bay LNG intends to appeal the decision on April 23 by the United States Bureau of Indian Affairs to cancel the company's lease to the Split Rock site on Pleasant Point Reservation, president Donald M. Smith said in Oklahoma City last week.

The appeal will go nowhere, Godfrey predicted from Eastport, Maine.

"Smith is merely embarrassed that he has had an enormous failure, and he's just trying to spin it to make it sound otherwise, but this project is already double dead if not triple dead," he said.

"It's been killed by two federal agencies plus the tribe. His claim that the lease still exists, obviously it doesn't."

The Passamaquoddy group Nulankeyutmonen Nkihtaqmikon sued the Bureau of Indian Affairs after the federal agency approved the lease to the Split Rock site June 1, 2005.

On June 9 last year the Passamaquoddy tribal council cancelled the lease for non-payment. On April 23 this year the bureau supported the council's decision.

On Oct. 17, 2008, the United States Federal Energy Regulatory Commission suspended its review of Quoddy Bay LNG's proposal. Shortly afterwards the company withdrew its application from the Maine Board of Environmental Review.

Applications by two other liquefied natural gas proposals continue through the American regulatory processes. Downeast LNG would build a terminal at Robinston, across the mouth of the St. Croix River. Calais LNG would build across from the port of Bayside.

Supporters say the projects would bring needed work to the region region, but opponents counter that they would destroy more economic opportunity than they'd create.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Will oil drilling on Georges Bank endanger the Bay of Fundy? Canada faces deadline decision

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Richard Gaines
Staff Writer, Glouchester Times.

Across the Gulf of Maine in Nova Scotia, tension is building ahead of a decision due by month's end on whether to open for review and possible reversal a moratorium on petroleum exploration and drilling in the Canadian portion of Georges Bank.

But even if the provincial government decides against a new study of the pros and cons of drilling for oil and gas under the Canadian sector of the unique fishing grounds it shares with the United States, a spokesman for the Nova Scotia Department of Energy yesterday cautioned against drawing conclusions from that option.

"The decision whether or not to hold a public review is independent of whether to extend the moratorium," the department's Matt Lumley said in a telephone interview.

Energy Minister Bill Estabrooks was quoted in a story last month in the national news agency, The Canadian Press, as intrigued by possibilities of exploring for energy under Georges. Outside the Gulf of Maine basin most ocean areas are open to oil and gas development.

"I'm open to all the possibilities," said Estatbrooks in the April 24 story.

In the same story, Environment Minister Sterling Belliveau, a former commercial fisherman, was quoted as also feeling obligated to authorize the evaluation of the possibilities of drilling into the prized fishing grounds which extends into the ocean like a giant lobster claw from underneath Cape Cod.

"It's one of the most sensitive areas in the world and I've taken those concerns to our caucus," he said. "But in fairness, when government is faced with a decision they have to go out and do the evaluation.

Both ministers are members of the New Democratic Party, a left, progressive, social democratic party that before its election last year to govern Nova Scotia had opposed energy exploration in the Canadian sector of Georges.

The article was published weeks after President Obama extended the U.S. ban on oil and gas exploration in its larger Georges sector for five years through 2017 but opened vast swatches of the mid-Atlantic south of New Jersey to central Florida to oil exploration.

The comments did not note the explosion in the Gulf of Mexico of the BP oil platform that killed 11 workers and began uncontrolled leaking of crude oil that is now described as representing an unfolding ecological catastrophe.

The disaster did not come up in Lumley's nuanced explanation of the situation facing the provisional government in the weeks leading up to the mandated decision by June 1 whether to institute a new evaluation of the options for the Canadian portion of Georges.

It is a decision that is seen as having vast implications for the U.S. section, now under intense fish stock recovery controls written by the National Marine Fishery Service and its regional instrument, the New England Fishery Management Council.

Breaking with the United States to allow drilling in the Canadian side, said Peter Shelley, director of Conservation Law Foundation's Advocacy Center, "would be a real disaster for us, even it if were only exploratory drilling because of the currents, and once there's a spill, the entire fish production lives in the currents.

"I'm disappointed the Canadians are making these noises," he said. "I can't blame the Canadians for looking at their options."

Shelley said he worried that "if one side goes into drilling, the other side would go. The logic for protection disappears and herd mentality takes over."

The Canadians last conducted a review, this one mandated by law, of the options for Georges in 1999. The three-person panel took written and oral testimony from diverse interests including petroleum representatives and Massachusetts' U.S. Sen, Edward Kennedy and John Kerry and Congressmen John Tierney, Barney Frank and Bill Delahunt before concluding that drilling was a bad bet.

"In considering the risks to Georges Bank, the unacceptability of potential harm is the most important factor," the panel wrote. "The arguments that point to the great value of Georges Bank, ecologically and as a fishery, weighed against a lack of public need for limited benefits from petroleum exploration are persuasive.

Mark Butler, policy director for the Halifax, Nova Scotia, Ecology Action Center, a part of the NoRigs3 Coalition that is fighting to maintain the moratorium, told the Times "the issues haven't changed."

The Hague Line that split Georges between the United States and Canada was established in the International Court of Justice and named after its location in The Netherlands in 1984, resolving overlapping claims to Georges that were intensified by the possibility that, along with the great ecosystem proximate to the countries' fishing ports, natural gas might be found beneath the sandy ocean floor.

The fight that led to the original moratorium in the 1980s marked the last time fishing and environmental interests were aligned. Richard Gaines may be contacted at 978-283-7000 x3464 or

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Canadian groups seeks citizens help opposing US Passamaquoddy-based LNG proposals.

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April 27, 2010
Dear Supporters of Passamaquoddy Bay:

When we sent out our last update in December of 2009, we were awaiting the final decision from FERC (the US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission) about the LNG terminal proposed for Mill Cove, Me., across from the St. Andrews golf course. Since then, Downeast LNG has been slow to submit required information to FERC, which has delayed the issuance of the final report. We are still waiting, but do expect it soon. It is important to remember, as the federal process comes to an end for Downeast, that even though they may get approved at this level, they have not yet started the Maine process, and they must have approval from both levels of government before they can proceed.

Calais LNG, with the financial backing of Goldman Sachs, has filed their proposal with FERC and is proceeding with the state of Maine, at the same time. We are pleased to report to you that both the Conservation Law Foundation and the Sierra Club are intervening in opposition to this project.

Some of you may have read in the Courier that SPB is currently in need of funds. To clarify, it is SPB/US that is fund-raising at the moment. SPB/US is our State-side partner in the fight against the LNG terminals in Passamaquoddy Bay, without whom our job would be a whole lot harder. While it is possible that we may have to turn to you again in the future, SPB/Canada, thanks to the generosity of our supporters, is not currently fund-raising.

That being said, we are asking for a different kind of support with this update. The SPB Three-Nation Alliance (which includes the Native American nation) has started a campaign to show FERC the number of citizens who would be affected by and are opposed to an LNG terminal in Calais. We want to put a human face - the many, many human faces of the people who live here, work here, visit here - on this proposal.

We are asking you to please take a few moments and write a letter to FERC. Use your own words, describing what the bay means to you and how you would be effected by the LNG terminals. Things that would be helpful to include would be:

* The fact that the Bay of Fundy has recently been shortlisted in the competition for the new 7 wonders of the world - the only Canadian entry still in competition, and one of only 28 world-wide.

* The economy and the way of life of many communities around the bay depends on a clean healthy environment, for fisheries, tourism, research and more.

Save Passamaquoddy Bay / Canada is a New Brunswick corporation P.O. Box 3909, St. Andrews, NB, Canada E5B 2A5 Tel.: 506.529.8838

* It is foolhardy to risk the extensive damage that LNG tankers and a terminal could do to this important ecological area for the profit of Goldman Sachs when there is no need for the gas---the US has over 200 years of domestic supply.

* The transit route for the tankers would place many Canadian communities in the hazard zone, and would require hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of emergency response equipment and personnel, which these small communities cannot afford.

* The Canadian government has consistently said that they will not allow LNG tankers through Head Harbour Passage. It also has refused to co-operate with the permitting process.

Thank you for taking the time to do this. If you are a US citizen, please identify yourself as such when you state your opposition.

Please address and mail your letters to:
Kimberly Bose, Secretary
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
888 First Street, N.E.
Washington DC 20426

You will need to include the Docket number for Calais LNG, which is CP10-32. For
FERC Docket Number for Calais LNG -- CP10-32

Thank you again for taking the time to do this. Calais LNG has deep pockets, connections, and the benefit of learning from the mistakes and obstacles that the other 2 proposals have gone through. All of our efforts will be needed to ensure that our bay remains free of this dangerous cargo.

Jessie Davies,

Feds pull plug on Split Rock LNG pact

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4/28/10 | 17 comments
By Bill Trotter
BDN Staff

PLEASANT POINT, Maine — An energy development firm has lost its land lease with a local Indian tribe after the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs canceled the firm’s lease contract, according to officials.

The Vermont Law School’s Environmental and Natural Resources Law Clinic issued a press release Monday afternoon indicating that BIA canceled Quoddy Bay LNG’s contract with the Passamaquoddy Tribe on Friday. The law clinic represents a group of tribal members that is opposed to the firm’s plans to construct a liquefied natural gas terminal on tribal land on Passamaquoddy Bay.

Don Smith, president of Quoddy Bay LNG, said in a telephone interview Tuesday evening that he has received a letter from BIA indicating the agency has canceled his company’s lease with the tribe. He said the reason stated in the letter for the cancellation was that Quoddy Bay had not responded in a timely fashion to a request from BIA for an explanation of why the contract should not be terminated.

“I had thought we had responded to the BIA,” Smith said.

Smith said he plans to contact BIA and ask it to reconsider.

An official with BIA who asked not to be identified confirmed Tuesday that the agency notified Quoddy Bay of the contract cancellation Friday. The official said Quoddy Bay can appeal the decision, but declined to comment further.

In June 2009, the Passamaquoddy Tribe at Pleasant Point sent Smith a letter indicating it had decided to terminate the contract on its own. At the time, Smith said the tribe did not have legal grounds to terminate the contract.

Smith reiterated that point on Tuesday. He said he believes the tribe is legally obligated to honor the contract and that, over the long term, the project is still economically viable.

He said there will continue to be demand in southern New England for natural gas, and that piping it south from Washington County will be more cost-effective than delivering it by other means.

“The financial circumstances of the country have made it impractical to build it now,” Smith said.

He said his firm has spent $17 million on the project so far. When the economy improves, he added, he intends to find a financial partner to help bring the project to fruition.

Smith said that, both for Quoddy Bay and the tribe, it makes more sense financially to leave the project on pause than it does to throw everything out and start all over again at a later date.

Some members of the tribe have been against the project from the beginning. In 2005, months after the contract was approved by BIA, a group of Passamaquoddys who call themselves Nulankeyutmonen Nkitahkomikon unsuccessfully challenged BIA’s approval in federal court. The name of the group translates into “We Take Care of Our Land.”

“[This] victory is on behalf of our descendants because it is what our ancestors expect from us,” Vera Francis, an organizer with the tribal group, said in a prepared release about BIA’s cancellation of the contract. “To value and defend that which has sustained us — Passamaquoddy Bay — is what defines and shapes our future.”

Teresa Clemmer, assistant director of the Vermont law clinic, said in the same release that the tribal group and clinic staffers persevered for five years to have the lease thrown out.

“It’s a great result and a testament to their determination and willingness to hang in there for the long haul,” Clemmer said in the statement.

A phone message left Tuesday for Thomas Lewey, the tribe’s lieutenant governor at Pleasant Point, was not returned. A woman who answered the phone at the tribal offices Tuesday afternoon said Rick Doyle, the tribe’s governor at Pleasant Point, would not be in the office this week.

Quoddy Bay LNG withdrew its applications for state and federal permits in 2008. The projected cost of constructing the facility, which would be used to offload LNG from specially designed tanker ships and to pump the vaporized cargo to the Maritimes & Northeast Pipeline in Baileyville, is believed to be in the range of $500 million.

Three developers have expressed interest in or developed plans for an LNG terminal in eastern Washington County. In addition to Quoddy Bay LNG’s plans, Downeast LNG with an office in Robbinston has received a draft environmental impact study from federal regulators on a plan for a terminal at Mill Cove, and Calais LNG hopes to build a terminal on the St. Croix River in Calais.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

A Brief History of LNG in Passamaquoddy Bay

From Save Passamaquoddy Bay USA

Maine LNG Terminal Development Failure History > 2005–2010

> City of Calais
2008 Sep 11 — Calais LNG partner Goldman Sachs reported importing LNG into US no longer required.
2008 Oct 21 — Calais LNG corrects false claim in Status Report to FERC that they had met with Save Passamaquoddy Bay.
2009 Dec 18 — Calais LNG filed formal FERC application.

> Town of Robbinston
2009 Jan 9 — US Coast Guard Waterway Suitability Report requires Downeast LNG to obtain Canada's cooperation for secure LNG ship transits; otherwise, Coast Guard will refuse entry into US.
2009 May 15 — FERC Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) released.
2009 Jul 6 — Downeast LNG failed to meet technical question deadline for FERC's DEIS questions.
2010 Apr 5 (or earlier) — Downeast LNG office listed for sale.

> Sipayik/Pleasant Point Passamaquoddy Reservation
2008 Apr 25 — FERC suspended review of Quoddy Bay LNG applications.
2010 Jan — Quoddy Bay LNG sued by TRC for nonpayment & fraud.
2010 Apr 3 — Quoddy Bay LNG signs removed from building and along Maine Route-190.
2010 Apr 23 —Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) canceled Quoddy Bay LNG lease with Pleasant Point Tribal Government.

News Stories & Editorial > Apr 30 [For faster page loading, go to our Latest News page.]
Members of Passamaquoddy Tribe keep LNG terminal off tribal land (Apr 28)
VLS Clinic helps tribal group win victory in natural gas dispute (Apr 26)
US puts sea law on backburner (Apr 29)
Murkowski pessimistic about US ratifying sea treaty [UNCLOS] this year (Apr 28)