Nfld. & Labrador

NLers in House of Commons will continue to fight for Bay du Nord, says Avalon MP

The proposed project is in limbo after federal Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault asked for a maximum of 40 additional days to decide if the project could cause significant effects to the environment.

Project being rejected would be 'horrendous,' said Ken McDonald

Ken McDonald, the Liberal MP for Avalon, says he and the other MPs from Newfoundland and Labrador are pushing for the Bay du Nord project to move forward. (Darryl Murphy/CBC)

Avalon member of Parliament Ken McDonald says he and the province's other MPs will continue to fight for the proposed Bay du Nord oil project, as losing the project would be "horrendous" for the province.

The proposed project, located about 500 kilometres east of Newfoundland, is in limbo after Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault asked for a maximum of 40 additional days to decide if the project could cause significant effects to the environment earlier this month.

The project has reportedly caused a divide within the Liberal cabinet, according to Radio-Canada, which reported in February that several Liberal ministers from Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia want to reject Bay du Nord after committing to climate objectives that include capping emissions from the oil and gas industry.

"I think it would be horrendous if Bay du Nord don't get the green light," McDonald told CBC News on Friday.

"There are members of the Liberal caucus who probably don't want Bay du Nord to go ahead. But my argument is that if this doesn't go ahead, what [does]? Like it's the cleanest oil in the world, and the tap is not going to be shut off tomorrow or the next day. I think if we can put cleaner oil on the market, it is a good thing for everyone."

MPs call project crucial to province's future

While speaking with reporters Friday, St. John's South-Mount Pearl MP and federal Labour Minister Seamus O'Regan refused to say if he supports Bay du Nord, citing cabinet confidentiality, but said the decision of the fate on the project is "very live" to the federal government.

Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Andrew Furey has said the project will play a key role in helping the province meet a global demand for responsible oil, while Conservative MP Clifford Small and the province's other MPs have called the project crucial to the province's future.

With water depths of some 1,200 metres, Equinor's Bay du Nord project will use a floating production, storage and offloading vessel, better known as an FPSO, like the one illustrated here. OEquinor officials say a final investment decision is expected within two years, with first oil before the end of the decade. (Equinor)

"All seven of us are fighting hard and speaking up loudly and clearly that we want to see this project move ahead. Not just for the cleanness of the oil that's out there, but for the jobs and the economic benefit that it will bring to this province," McDonald said.

"I think we have to get cleaner and greener, but we still have to provide good well-paying jobs. And if that's in the oil and gas industry that's making a difference in the type of oil that's getting refined, I'm certainly in favour of that."

Despite the partnership between the federal Liberals and NDP, which will pursue a series of commitments including phasing out federal government support for the fossil fuel sector beginning in 2022, McDonald said he believes Bay du Nord will play a key role in Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's responsibility to oversee the Canadian economy coming out of COVID-19.

"We want to see the economy come roaring back as we get out of COVID. Well one of the things that will help it roar back is obviously the oil and gas industry in Newfoundland and Labrador," he said.

If the project were to be rejected, McDonald said, he believes it would impact the Liberal party's ability to have candidates elected in the province.

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

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