Dalhousie Law Journal


CNSOPB, seismic, offshore, Cape Breton, FEAC, Ad Hoc Working Group, Science Working Group, Canada, oil, gas


The author describes the review process preceding the 2003 CNSOPB decision which permitted seismic activities offshore of Cape Breton. The process included a public review conducted by Commissioner Dr. Teresa MacNeil and the subsequent establishment of an Ad Hoc Working Group (part of the CNSOPB's existing Fisheries and Environment Advisory Committee (FEAC)) and a Science Working Group reporting to the Ad Hoc Working Group. In the author's view, the Ad Hoc Working Group arrived at the anticipated result; that is, continued disagreement among the opposing parties on the fundamental issues. Consequently CNSOPB was left with the decision on how to proceed. The author briefly examines the CNSOPB's decision. He concludes that the opposing parties did not move closer together during the review process despite the fact that it was by far the widest ranging review in Canada up to that date. The process did, however highlight the sensitivity of conducting oil and gas exploration in the near-shore environment, the importance of having input into the decision-making process and the need for governments and regulators to provide clear guidelines to all participants in the regulatory review process.