03 November 2010

NL offshore drilling ban decision rests with prov gov #oilspill #cdnpoli

The federal government couldn’t impose a ban on offshore drilling in the Newfoundland and Labrador offshore area unless the provincial government agreed, according to briefing notes for the federal natural resources minister obtained by PostMedia.

Under the 1985 Atlantic Accord, such a decision would require the agreement of the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador. A federal-provincial agreement with Nova Scotia contains similar provisions.  In the absence of such an agreement, the Government of Canada has reportedly entered into informal talks with other coastal provinces where offshore drilling could take place.

Newfoundland and Labrador is also different from other provinces in that its provincial jurisdiction does not end at the low water mark.  Under the 1949 Terms of Union, the provincial government governs the same territory as it did prior to Confederation. Court decisions have upheld the view that this extends to three miles offshore, the territorial sea limit recognised internationally in 1949. As a result, the provincial government in newfoundland and Labrador has exclusive jurisdiction on offshore drilling within three miles of the shoreline.

- srbp -

Related:  Drill, baby!  Drill! – Dunderdale rebuffs concerns about border, offshore oil spills