Inuit: 'Chill The Drill' On Canadian Arctic
Canada's northern peoples called for a moratorium on offshore oil and gas drilling in the Canadian Arctic until safeguards are in place to avoid a spill like the one soiling the US Gulf Coast.
"Against the backdrop of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, Inuit are seeking an immediate pause on drilling in the Beaufort Sea in order to take stock," Inuit leader Mary Simon told the Economic Club of Canada, a leading business forum.
"We also seek a commitment that any future drilling proceed only on the basis of the best safeguards used internationally, and the adoption of supplementary environmental protection measures that address unique Arctic vulnerabilities," she said.
The US Geological Survey estimates the Arctic holds some 90 billion barrels of oil and 44 billion barrels of natural gas, or 30 percent of the world's undiscovered gas reserves.
Environmentalists fear increased commercial activity could spoil the pristine environment as a global race intensifies for the vast energy riches believed to be hidden beneath the seabed.
In a letter to Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper viewed by AFP, Simon said the Gulf of Mexico spill "underscores the environmental risks and engineering challenges" of offshore drilling.
"In the offshore Arctic, these risks and challenges are compounded greatly," she wrote, "by harsh climatic conditions, the presence of annual multi-year ice, incomplete knowledge bases" and limited infrastructure, including ports.
Simon pressed Harper for a "time-out" on drilling in the Beaufort Sea until strict environmental safeguards are in place.
She also urged a top-up of a Canadian government fund that promptly compensates victims of oil spills, then seeks to recover the amounts paid out to victims from ship or rig owners responsible for the accidents.
BP, which owns the well that has spewed millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico since the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded and sank five weeks ago, also has exploration licenses in the Canadian Beaufort Sea.
The Canadian Geological Survey of Canada, meanwhile, was granted approval this week for seismic tests in Lancaster Sound in the Eastern Canadian Arctic in the coming months to explore for oil and gas resources.
Local Inuit, the Nunavut territorial government and Parks Canada -- which has proposed designating Lancaster Sound a national marine conservative area -- oppose the tests.
The area is home to narwhal, beluga and bowhead whales, as well as seals, walrus and polar bears. Each year, hundreds of thousands of sea birds also flock to the area.
Question On Uranium Mines In Saskatchewan
Hello, I am not a Native person, but I teach in a Cree community and founded an opposition group to uranium mining and exploration on Eeyou Itschee with my Cree friends.
We just had an hearing about an advanced exploration for uranium , north of Mistissini , the largest natural lake in Quebec and sacred to the Crees.
I would like to know how many mines have been properly shut down and decommissionned (tailings securely covered etc) in Saskatchewan.
I thought only Cluff Lake was on the process of being cleaned up. Cannot find those facts so far on Internet.
Thanks a lot,
Élaine Hébert, member of the Mich Cini Coalition (POISONOUS ROCK in Cree)
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