Nfld. & Labrador

Former premier Roger Grimes is new chair of N.L.'s offshore regulator

He was an elected government official when all but one of the province's offshore oil projects were sanctioned, and now former Liberal premier Roger Crimes is chair of the board overseeing them.

'I've always been a develop-or-perish type of person,' says Roger Grimes

Roger Grimes was premier of the province from 2001 until 2003 under the Liberal flag. (Sarah Smellie/CBC)

He was an elected government official when all but one of the province's offshore oil projects were sanctioned, and now former Liberal premier Roger Grimes is chair of the board overseeing them.

He was announced as the new chair of the Canada-Newfoundland Offshore Petroleum Board on Thursday — and he swears it wasn't a patronage appointment.

"I don't know if I really wanted it or not," he said.

Grimes joined the board a year ago, attracted mostly because it was a part-time gig, he said.

"I've been retired from politics now a little over a decade, enjoying life," he said. "Always have a continuing interest in what's going in Newfoundland and Labrador … and I've always had an interest in the offshore development."

The Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board regulates the province's offshore industry. (CBC)

The C-NLOPB is jointly managed by the provincial and federal governments and Grimes's post came from a decision to restructure the board so its chief executive officer, currently Scott Tessier, wasn't also chair.

Grimes said he went through an intense vetting to assume the new role, joking the process was more rigorous than what he had to do to get elected.

Challenges from climate change, Bill C-69

According to the National Energy Board, the province's greenhouse gas emissions are about four per cent higher than the national average. Twenty-five per cent of those emissions come from oil and gas production.

And the provincial government says it wants to double offshore oil production by 2030.

"I'm a great fan of doing whatever we can about global warming," Grimes said. "But in the meantime, Newfoundland and Labrador is positioned as a province to benefit financially from adding to a carbon footprint in the least obtrusive way we can."

The federal government also recently passed Bill C-69, overhauling the federal environmental assessment process for the country's oil industry.

Pro-pipeline supporters rally outside a public hearing of the Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources regarding Bill C-69 in Calgary in April. (Jeff McIntosh/Canadian Press)

The Ball Liberals fought the bill, saying it would stall development.

Grimes said he doesn't have an opinion on the bill as the board of the C-NLOPB, but if were asked to give one when he was premier, he'd "answer the questions ... in a heartbeat."

"I've always been a develop-or-perish type of person, as an individual," he said.

"You can't have any development of any kind whatsoever without some kind of environmental disruption."

The point is, he said, to make sure that disruption is minimal and manageable through proper environmental assessment and oversight.

"There will be a disruption and there will be a change … and it has to be a manageable, sustainable change into the future."

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

Corrections

  • A previous version of this story provided an incorrect name for Scott Tessier, the CEO of the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board.
    Jul 23, 2019 10:49 AM NT

With files from Bailey White

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