Oil drilling concerns to be addressed says environment minister
Quebec's environment minister says the province will act soon to address concerns over how close to homes and waterways oil companies can drill.
Speaking Monday in Quebec City, Yves-François Blanchet said in the next few weeks, the Parti Québécois government will lay out new rules in response to the concerns of municipalities.
Oil and gas drilling companies hoping to drill near municipalities could be restricted by new rules being considered by Quebec's government.
The move comes after oil company Pétrolia temporarily suspended a controversial oil exploration project in the Gaspé region.
The exploration project prompted debate over drilling rights versus the concerns of residents when the town adopted a bylaw forbidding the company from drilling within 10 kilometres of its water supply, despite the fact Pétrolia held the necessary permits to do so.
Blanchet said the mayor of Gaspé, François Roussy, asked the provincial government to get involved in light of the town's battle with Pétrolia.
"[Roussy] does not want to be responsible for this issue because it's a national issue," Blanchet said.
Tonight, the municipality of the Magdalen Islands is expected to discuss a bylaw similar to the one adopted by Gaspé.
Montreal-based Gastem, an oil and gas exploration company, has shown interest in the region, but was faced with heavy opposition from residents.
"We have to ask ourselves who is governing. Is it the street that's governing? Is is he who yells the loudest?" said Raymond Savoie, chairman and CEO of Gastem.
But Magdalen Islands Mayor, Joël Arseneau, said he would like municipalities to have more of a say in drilling decisions.
"Local rule is usually closer to what local citizens want," Arseneau said.
Arsenau said he would ultimately like to see Quebec's environmental review board (BAPE) hold hearings before any drilling is approved to go ahead.