Offshore Oil and Gas Development
Moratorium on Drilling
A moratorium on oil and gas drilling off the B.C. coast was established by the provincial government in 1959. A federal moratorium on all offshore oil and gas activities followed in 1972.
Today, almost half a century since the first moratorium, the BC government has promised to stimulate oil and gas development off the B.C. coast and is lobbying to have the federal moratorium lifted. The Federal Conservative government is similarly inclined.
Why should we keep the moratorium?
The ecological risks of lifting the moratorium are too great.
One oil spill like the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska or the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil eruption would spell disaster for B.C.’s marine life. Also, exploration techniques like seismic testing have serious biological consequences, especially on the individual health and social behavior of marine mammals.
Increased oil and gas development also increases greenhouse gas emissions.
Offshore oil and gas development will contribute to B.C.’s greenhouse gas emissions, which blatantly contradicts the intention of B.C.’s legislated targets for province-wide carbon emission reductions. The oil and gas sector is currently responsible for 18 percent of B.C.’s greenhouse gas emissions.
Current environmental regulations are inadequate.
Our provincial environmental regulations have been systematically compromised. Federal legislation such as the Species at Risk Act is toothless and terminally slow in effect. The BC Environmental Assessment Act is not being effectively applied. The province lacks an adequate legal regime that protects the natural marine environment.
Instead of developing B.C.’s offshore oil and gas, Sierra Club BC urges the provincial government to focus on investing in alternative energy sources that produce little or no greenhouse gas emissions.