ExxonMobil abandons exploration permits off British Columbia

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ExxonMobil abandons exploration permits off British Columbia

ExxonMobil refuses to comment on its choice to abandon marine exploration permits off the coast of British Columbia.

Various environmental groups are cheering ExxonMobil's relinquishment of oil and gas exploration licenses off British Columbia it acquired more than 50 years ago.

Margot Bruce-O'Connell, a company spokeswoman, confirms the abandonment of nine permits, but declines to comment

Lawyer Ian Miron, from Ecojustice Canada, explains that these permits covered places that were really significant from an environmental point of view. According to Ecojustice, once these permits are surrendered, the affected land reverts to the Crown.

As a result of this surrender, ExxonMobil's name was removed from the list of defendants in a lawsuit filed by the David Suzuki Foundation and the World Wildlife Fund last year over the perpetual renewal of exploration permits.

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Ian Miron specifies, however, that the lawsuit is ongoing, since the oil company Chevron remains target for similar licenses held in British Columbia.

He notes that the existence of a policy-driven moratorium that prevents marine oil and gas exploration off the coast of the province, but that this moratorium has no legal effect. He adds that the very existence of permits undermines efforts to protect the environment.

The moratorium can be lifted at any time, at the discretion of governments, he underlines . Drilling remains a possibility that can happen at any time in areas of high ecological importance, he said.

Chevron did not respond to requests for comment.

The suit in question was filed in Federal Court by the David Suzuki Foundation and the World Wildlife Fund in 2022.

The plaintiffs accuse the federal Department of Natural Resources of improperly renewing marine exploration licenses held by oil companies in the Scott Islands Marine Protected Area and the Glass Sponge Reefs of Hecate Strait and Basin Marine Protected Area. Queen Charlotte.

According to environmental groups, the perpetual renewal of these permits granted in the late 1960s and early 1970s violates the federal Petroleum Resources Act.

When the legislative regime was changed in the 1980s, companies that held permits had to negotiate with the federal government within the prescribed timeframes to bring those permits into line with the new rules into force.

The plaintiffs maintain, however, that these negotiations never took place and ask the Court to require the abandonment of the permits in question.

With the information by La Presse c anadian

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