Green’s May accuses government of deceit

by Jack Locke

Prime Minister Stephen Harper announces beluga reserve, Tuktuyaaqtuuq, Aug. 26.

Elizabeth May is calling the government dishonest for declaring a beluga reserve in the Beaufort Sea, while also allowing for oil and gas development in the area.

“The Green Party is outraged by the duplicitous move in setting aside a portion of Arctic beluga habitat for oil and gas development,” says May in an email communication.

“Seismic testing is very damaging to cetaceans(large aquatic mammals), as it can cause permanent hearing loss, and loss of location ability. You cannot protect belugas in the same area in which you are developing oil and gas.”

Previously, the Green Party had applauded the Conservative’s measure.

“Had we known that the government was violating the essence of declaring a Marine Protected Area by excluding a zone to allow oil and gas in the Arctic, we would not have applauded what we believed to be a significant conservation achievement,” says May.

On Aug. 26, the government proclaimed the establishment of the Tarium Niryutait Marine Protected Area, 1,800 square kilometres incorporating three areas of the Mackenzie River Delta and estuary in the Beaufort Sea.

The prime minister’s official press release was couched in words that hid the possibility of allowing oil and gas drilling and exploration in the protected area.

“It will balance the cultural and economic aspirations of northerners, while advancing the Government’s environmental conservation plans.”

A story by Andrew Mayeda of Postmedia News on Aug. 27, broke the story, saying that Beaufort Sea drilling will see “several major energy players, including BP and Exxon Mobil, plan to commence exploratory drilling several years from now.”

The prime minister’s office has not responded to a request for further information.

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