BREA Funding
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Speaking Notes
Senator Daniel Lang

Announcement of funding for the Beaufort Sea Environmental Assessment

Inuvik, NWT
August 20, 2010


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Thank you for that warm introduction.

It is my pleasure to be here with you this morning / afternoon, on behalf of the Honourable John Duncan, Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians.

Ladies and gentlemen, as the world pushes forward ever faster to find new sources of fossil fuels, the issue of environmental protection is one that is very much on everyone's mind. We have all seen the images in the media of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico - and we have all said, “That must never happen here.”

The Beaufort Sea is a very important place for Canada. The communities in this beautiful region have a profound connection to the land and the ocean, and this connection is critical to the future well being of the people who live here.

The oil and gas industry is not new to the Inuvialuit region - these activities reach back many decades. As most of you know, industry interest has now moved to the deeper outer Beaufort in recent years. And with this interest from the private sector comes the need for increased knowledge and preparedness by all stakeholders.

And so today I am very pleased to announce that the Government of Canada will provide almost $22 million over five years to fund the Beaufort Regional Environmental Assessment, or BREA.

BREA is an innovative approach. It is based on a multi-stakeholder group that will sponsor regional environmental and socio-economic research that will inform potential offshore oil and gas activities in the Beaufort Sea. The results of the work will be used by regulators, government departments, Inuvialuit institutions and industry.

Ladies and gentlemen, we need BREA -- because it is imperative that we not only consider the significance of economic development opportunities in this vital area, but also that we accord the same importance to the preservation of the environment and the safety of individuals.

This initiative is an important component of Canada's Northern Strategy. It will generate new knowledge about our Arctic marine environment, and will provide cutting edge research opportunities for Canada's scientists and academics.

Now, that all sounds complicated. But in practical terms, what BREA will do is support research into such timely issues as spill preparedness and response, engineering requirements for safe operations, climate change, waste management, and information management.

The BREA can address research needs that may be identified during the National Energy Board's current review of Arctic Safety and Environmental Offshore Drilling Requirements. This Review will include an assessment of the state of knowledge of the long term impacts of a spill. This area of the National Energy Board review will likely lead to further discussions on how to address any gaps in research.

The BREA will also contribute to developing socio-economic indicators and monitoring to evaluate the human dimension of oil and gas activities in the Beaufort offshore. This part of the initiative is particularly relevant for our partners in the Inuvialuit region.

I would like at this point to acknowledge the hard work and informed advice of the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation and its Chair, Ms. Nellie Courneyea. The IRC has been an important advocate for BREA and will be a key partner in its operations as it gathers new information vital to the future management of the Beaufort Sea.

I also want to recognize the Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of Health and Minister Responsible for the North, for her ongoing contributions and her strong commitment to the North and its people.

And really, ladies and gentlemen, that is the core of what this funding will allow BREA to do - it will create a regional focus, incorporating regional expertise, on regional concerns. And most importantly, it will provide a means for Inuvialuit, Northerners, industry and regulators to pursue important research priorities. All of which will ensure that we are better prepared for offshore exploration activities in this vital area.

In closing, I would like to emphasize that it has never been more important than now to balance the drive for development with careful consideration of the protection of the environment and of safety. The work of BREA will help us achieve that balance, to the ultimate benefit of Northerners and all Canadians.

Thank you.

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