Senator Daniel Lang
Announcement of funding for
the Beaufort Sea Environmental Assessment
August 20, 2010
Check against delivery
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
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 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
-- 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,
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.
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.
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
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
has been an important advocate for
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
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
will help us achieve that balance, to the ultimate benefit of
Northerners and all Canadians.