Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavut June 02, 2011 - 5:11 am

We want more say over drilling, Iqaluit participants tell NEB

National Energy Board looking at safety and environmental requirements

SARAH ROGERS
The National Energy Board of Canada hosted an information session in Iqaluit May 31 to collect comments for its Arctic offshore drilling review. Many of the two dozen people who attended said they thought Nunavummiut should be more involved in the process in determining whether offshore drilling should take place near Nunavut. (PHOTO BY SARAH ROGERS)
The National Energy Board of Canada hosted an information session in Iqaluit May 31 to collect comments for its Arctic offshore drilling review. Many of the two dozen people who attended said they thought Nunavummiut should be more involved in the process in determining whether offshore drilling should take place near Nunavut. (PHOTO BY SARAH ROGERS)

Many people in Iqaluit say they want to play a bigger role in deciding whether there should be any offshore oil drilling in Canadian Arctic waters.

That’s what staff from the National Energy Board heard when they stopped in Iqaluit May 31 for a public hearing during the agency’s Arctic offshore drilling review.

Speaking at the NEB’s information meeting in Iqaluit — the only one scheduled for Nunavut, Glenn Williams told officials the territory needs say within the review process, because its residents live so close to possible drilling sites.

“I think we need to have a roundtable in Nunavut given that we have the largest offshore area,” Williams said. “This review requires meaningful consultations with Inuit.”

Although there are no current drilling projects or applications before the NEB to drill in the Canadian Arctic, Lynda Gunn said she’s worried about what the future holds.

“It’s not a question of if it’s going to happen, but when a spill is going to happen,” she said at the consultation. “And we’re not ready yet in our communities.”

There’s a lack of communication between industry regulators and the people who live in Canada’s Arctic, she said.

“The knowledge of the communities should be key,” she said. “We’ve seen how proposed seismic testing in Lancaster Sound was received through Nunavut courts last year.”

The NEB wraps up their northern tour June 2 in Yellowknife.

The NEB, the agency which regulates offshore oil drilling in the Canadian Arctic, launched its review of safety and environmental requirements for offshore drilling in the Arctic after last year’s Deepwater Horizon blowout and oil spillage in the Gulf of Mexico.

The agency must determine if applications meet safety and environmental requirements — not to decide whether Arctic drilling should be allowed, NEB officials said in Iqaluit.

“The Arctic review really is for us to hear what factors we should be considering, and clarifying what information companies should provide in the application process,” said NEB spokesperson Bharat Dixit.

The NEB will use the results of its review to develop what they call “filing requirements” for future Arctic offshore drilling applications.

The results of the review will be published in a public report by end of 2011.

To date, the NEB has received 5,000 pages of commentary on the review, he said.

The NEB plans host a roundtable in Inuvik this September— and those who wish to participate can apply for funding to attend here.

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