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Environmental decision released on Flemish Pass and Eastern Newfoundland offshore projects

The proposed Flemish Pass Exploration Drilling Project and the proposed Eastern Newfoundland Offshore Exploration Drilling Project are not likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects when mitigation measures are taken into account, according to the federal government.

"All Newfoundlanders and Labradorians know how important offshore oil and gas is for the future of our province.  These exploration projects provide excellent opportunities for jobs while providing operators with critical information regarding the potential of their offshore plays," said Seamus O'Regan, minister of indigenous services, speaking for Minister of Environment and Climate Change Catherine McKenna. "The Government continues its commitment to protect the environment while growing the economy, creating secure jobs for our country's middle class."

The decision was informed by meaningful consultations with Indigenous Peoples, public input and scientific evidence, including Indigenous Traditional Knowledge and an assessment of greenhouse gas emissions.

Both projects are subject to approximately 90 legally-binding conditions the proponents must fulfill. These conditions will reduce or eliminate potential effects of the projects on the environment.

For example, the proponents will be required to mitigate and monitor potential effects on marine habitat, including those related to the treatment of waste discharges, reduce supply vessel speed when marine mammals are observed nearby, verify underwater noise levels, and conduct a survey to identify  and avoid corals or sponges at each wellsite.

The Canada- Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board will be responsible for monitoring and enforcing legally-binding conditions listed in the Minister's Environmental Assessment Decision Statements.

The exploration drilling projects, proposed by Equinor Canada Ltd. and ExxonMobil Canada Ltd., are located approximately 460 kilometres and 265 kilometres, respectively, east of St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, in the Atlantic Ocean.

The Government's Interim Approach and Principles for environmental assessments ensures that project decisions are informed by meaningful consultations with Indigenous Peoples, public input and scientific evidence, including Indigenous Traditional Knowledge, and an assessment of greenhouse gas emissions.

This decision follows thorough and science-based environmental assessments conducted by the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency with the participation of Indigenous groups, the public, the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board, and federal departments including Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Environment and Climate Change Canada, Natural Resources Canada, Health Canada, and Transport Canada.

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