Cape Breton citizens group loses oil-drilling appeal

Cape Breton citizens group loses oil-drilling appeal by Bruce Erskine, August 8, 2012, The Chronical Herald
The Margaree Environmental Association has lost its bid to have the Nova Scotia Supreme Court overturn a decision by Environment Minister Sterling Belliveau allowing an oil well to be drilled near Lake Ainslie. In a written decision released Wednesday dismissing the association’s appeal, Justice David MacAdam found that the minister’s decision allowing PetroWorth Resources Inc. of Toronto to drill an exploration well was reasonable and met a duty of procedural fairness. “The present appeal requires the court to determine whether the minister had reasonable grounds to decide as he has. There is nothing in the record to show that he failed in this regard,” MacAdam said. … Association co-chair Neal Livingston said the group was disappointed but felt it had raised public awareness about the province’s regulations governing oil and gas exploration. “We disagree with the minister,” he said in an interview Wednesday, adding that the group plans to discuss the ruling with its lawyer. The association argued that a watercourse located within 50 metres of the well site, identified by the minister as a drainage ditch, should have prevented drilling there under regulatory guidelines borrowed from Alberta. “It is not a pure legal determination but involves matters of public policy as well. The purpose of the act is primarily one of balancing interests, ‘of protecting the environment by balancing ecosystem integrity, human health and socio-economic well-being.’” MacAdam said surrounding residents have legitimate concerns and are entitled to ask questions about the effects of drilling activity, but the act permits the minister to decide whether the granting of approval is in the public interest.

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