Judge to assess abundant evidence on Bay du Nord endorsement
Equinor would prefer to build the oil extraction and storage vessel planned for the Bay du Nord project outside of Newfoundland, but it points out that the underwater works and potential revenues have been revised to the rise following the discovery of more exploitable oil.
Having now heard the arguments over Bay du Nord, a Federal Court judge could rule whether the oil projects and gas companies should be assessed for environmental impacts related to the shipment and end use of their products, in addition to those resulting from production.
Judge Russel Zinn said there was so much evidence presented in the case that it would take him some time to come to a decision.
Environmental groups and eight Mi'kmaq communities in New Brunswick on Thursday asked the Federal Court to overturn Ottawa's approval of the Bay du Nord offshore oil project in Newfoundland and Labrador. Labrador. They argue that the Liberal government did not rely on proper environmental impact studies.
Equinor, the Norwegian company behind the Bay du Nord project, has yet to confirm whether it is still going ahead. If exploitation goes ahead, the facility could produce at least 300 million barrels of oil, and possibly about three times that much, over a 20 to 30 year period.
Minister Guilbeault, a former environmental activist who opposed new fossil fuel projects, described the decision to approve Bay du Nord as one of the most difficult of his life. (File photo)
Federal Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault approved the project last April following a review by the x27;Impact Assessment and Environmental Assessment Agency.
Equinor's Canadian lawyer argued Thursday that the company cannot be held responsible for things beyond its control, including because the company does not yet know where the oil is going to be shipped or how it will be used. .
Equinor has no idea what the shipping routes will be because they have not been selected. She doesn't know where the oil is going, argued Sean Sutherland, a Calgary lawyer.
He said it would be impossible to assess the emissions produced when using the oil, usually referred to as downstream emissions, as Equinor does not know who the buyers will be.
“We don't know what the downstream uses will be.
—Sean Sutherland, Attorney
However, two Ecojustice lawyers have argued that an environmental assessment of a fossil fuel project must consider the full environmental impact, from soil extraction to use. .
In this case, neither Mr. Guilbeault nor the Impact Assessment Agency even considered whether the downstream emissions were harmful to the environment, argued lawyer Anna McIntosh.
But for the project, there would be no downstream emissions, so it is impossible to say that downstream emissions are not an environmental effect of the project, Ms. McIntosh asserted.
She also argued that the project does not align with the interest of Canada or other countries in reducing greenhouse gas emissions to slow global warming.< /p>
Minister Guilbeault, a former environmental activist who opposed new fossil fuel projects, described the decision to approve Bay du Nord as one of the most difficult of his life.
The government insists, however, that this project is in line with its climate objectives, in part because there are uses for oil that are not energy-related.
Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson has indicated that by 2050 oil demand will be almost entirely for non-combustion activities, including solvents, lubricants and petrochemicals.
Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson.
Federal approval of the project is being challenged in court by the Sierra Club Canada Foundation, Équiterre and Mi'gmawe'l Tplu'taqnn, which was the official consultant to eight Mi'kmaq communities of New Brunswick.
Mi'gmawe'l Tplu'taqnn also argues that the government failed in its duty to consult on the impact of shipping in the waters of the North Atlantic Ocean that are within its traditional territory.
Government lawyer Dayna Anderson mentioned that the government considered shipping and fully discharged any duty to consult with respect to the project itself. She clarified that there is no land claim or treaty on the specific area where the project will be located.
Environmental groups and Mi' gmawe'l Tplu'taqnn are suing the court to rescind the federal authorization and are asking the government and the Impact Assessment Agency; include downstream emissions and all shipping in their assessments.