NFLD Regional Assessment - Follow Up

Reference Number

To whom it may concern;

Thank you for continuing to engage with us as the Newfoundland Regional Assessment process proceeds into the Technical Advisory Group (“TAG”) sessions this week. This email is intended as an extension of our groups’ letter to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency and the Regional Assessment Committee, which we originally sent via email on 25 July 2019. The letter is attached again for your convenience. 

We have had the opportunity to discuss the Regional Assessment process as a group of participants who have common interests in this process. As the process has proceeded, we have identified a number of concerns, many of which we highlighted in our letter. These include:

  • How the short timeline will allow for wholesome and productive assessment of the entire study area and all of the activities
  • How the final report will be used to limit further assessments of exploratory oil and gas activities in future project-specific environmental assessments
  • The extent to which the Regional Assessment will allow for a comprehensive assessment of cumulative effects, including seismic testing
  • The ability of the GIS system to fully meet the requirements of the Committee under its Terms of Reference
  • Whether efforts have been made thus far to engage with the international community and our international partners
  • Whether there is a process in place to provide for fair and effective record keeping
  • The level of independence of the Committee’s chairs

To that end, I would like to begin by registering and reiterating a specific concern that East Coast Environmental Law has already conveyed: namely, the lack of clarity around the record keeping process by the Committee and the Impact Assessment Agency for the Regional Assessment. 

As you are aware, section 5.1 of the Agreement to Conduct a Regional Assessment of Offshore Oil and Gas Exploratory Drilling East of Newfoundland and Labrador (the "Agreement") requires a public registry to be maintained during the course of the Regional Assessment that provides for convenient public access. Furthermore, 5.3 of the Agreement states that "[t]he public registry will include information used to develop the Regional Assessment, including submissions or reports as well as comments received by the Task Team or the Committee from the public or Indigenous groups during the Regional Assessment. It will also include information produced by the Task Team or Committee" (underlining added). 

It is my understanding from the Agreement that any submissions made to either the Task Team or the Committee will be included in the public registry when those submissions are used to develop the Regional Assessment’s final report. Our group is of the opinion that in order to make the most of our submissions and provide the Committee and this Regional Assessment process with the most useful information, we should be fully aware of the policy that is guiding the Committee’s conduct with respect to posting information on the public registry. This is particularly important to us given that email correspondence in the past and, more recently, the TAG Group comment sheets, has indicated an option for groups to self-censor which information goes onto the public registry. 

Furthermore, in anticipation of further engagement, including in the TAG sessions, we would like to request that either the Impact Assessment Agency or the Committee formally respond to the inquires and questions regarding the Regional Assessment that we conveyed in our letter. This includes, but is not limited to, our concerns about the short timeline that is currently driving this process and the objectives of the Regional Assessment.

As you are aware, and as indicated in our letter, our groups are highly concerned that the indicated timeline for this Regional Assessment will not allow sufficient time to conduct an effective and comprehensive process that fully captures the range of impacts or cumulative effects of offshore exploratory oil and gas activities in the study area. As such, we would like the Committee to clarify its expectations with regard to the timeline, provide us with any new information about the process to conduct or produce the remaining components of the Regional Assessment process, and to address how the final report will be used when the Regional Assessment is complete. If the Committee is not able to address our concerns, we intend to request clarification and an extension to the Regional Assessment directly from the Minister. 

Thank you for considering our requests. We look forward to your response.


Mike Kofahl


Mike Kofahl, Staff Lawyer

East Coast Environmental Law

Tel: <personal information removed>

Twitter: @ecelaw

Submitted by
Administrator on behalf of East Coast Environmental Law
Public Notice
Date Submitted
2019-10-07 - 8:47 AM
Date modified: