Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavut April 12, 2016 - 10:45 am

Lawsuit to challenge oil permits in Lancaster Sound

Permits remain major obstacle to protecting Nunavut's rich ecosystem, groups say

NUNATSIAQ NEWS
This map shows the proposed government and Inuit boundaries for the Lancaster Sound National Marine Conservation Area. (IMAGE COURTESY OF WWF-CANADA)
This map shows the proposed government and Inuit boundaries for the Lancaster Sound National Marine Conservation Area. (IMAGE COURTESY OF WWF-CANADA)

Environmental rights groups World Wildlife Fund Canada and Ecojustice have launched a lawsuit to challenge the validity of Shell oil permits in Lancaster Sound, the groups said April 12.

WWF-Canada, represented by lawyers from Ecojustice, has asked the federal court to confirm the expiry of Shell’s oil and gas exploration permits on the border of the proposed Lancaster Sound National Marine Conservation Area in Nunavut.

The lawsuit also orders an update of registry records under the Canada Petroleum Resources Act, in order to prove the expiry of those permits.

“In the past, the federal government bureaucracy has relied on these expired permits to propose narrower boundaries for the Lancaster Sound National Marine Conservation Area, over objections from Inuit communities,” said Paul Crowley, WWF-Canada’s vice president of Arctic conservation.

“So long as these permits are allowed to stand, they will continue to obstruct efforts to ensure Lancaster Sound’s ecosystems and wildlife get the protection they need.”

A recent investigation by Greenpeace Canada found that a series of exploratory oil permits in Lancaster Sound, first issued to Shell Canada in 1971, may have expired decades ago.

Greenpeace says that, according to documents the organizations obtained through freedom of information requests, those permits were issued to Shell in 1971 under a six-year lease and were never officially renewed in 1978.

Just this week, Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada said the department completed a review of the permits and determined they were still good.

Environmental groups argue the permits remain a major obstacle to the creation of a long-awaited conservation area, in what’s considered one of the richest marine mammal areas of the country, home to narwhals, belugas, seals, walruses, bowhead whales and seabirds.

Lancaster Sound is also known as the southern edge of the Last Ice Area, the only Arctic region expected to retain its summer sea ice until 2050.

  Notice of Application Re: Shell Canada Permits by NunatsiaqNews

 

 

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