The Dexter government’s decision to continue a ban on oil and gas exploration on the Georges Bank is being welcomed by both environmental groups – and the oil industry.
However, both are hoping for entirely different outcomes when the ban comes up for review again.
Premier Darrell Dexter announced on Thursday that the moratorium on offshore exploration, which expires in 2012, will be renewed until the end of 2015. Mark Butler of the Ecology Action Centre says he’s happy with that decision – but wishes Dexter had declared the ban in place permanently.
“The science is important, changes in the industry and technology are important, but the value of Georges Bank doesn’t change, both its ecosystem and value to the fishery,” he said. “At some point it just becomes a policy or a political or a human decision, and we need to make that permanent decision to protect Georges Bank.”
Dexter says the government watch for more studies done to determine the impact of possibly lifting the ban on oil and gas drilling before deciding what to do after 2015.
Paul McEachern, managing director of the Offshore Onshore Technologies Association of Nova Scotia, says he appreciates the prudent approach.
“The fact that they’ve decided that they want a short time frame for themselves, that they’ve handed it to the scientists, and to take this decision and make it in a less emotional way than often you see in politics is encouraging for both sides,” he said.
“They’ve shown themselves to be more interested in making a right decision rather than a rushed decision.”
The drilling ban has been in place since 1988.