Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Nova Scotia Energy Minister Says Offshore Safety Rules Are Fine for Now

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Nova Scotia Energy Minister Says Offshore Safety Rules Are Fine for Now

Article excerpt

Offshore rules are fine: Nova Scotia minister

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HALIFAX - Nova Scotia's energy minister says he's satisfied with federal legislation aimed at improving safety in the offshore energy sector even though it doesn't call for an independent safety agency, a measure he pushed for while in Opposition.

"I still think there is merit in having an offshore safety board," Andrew Younger said in an interview.

"The reality is that I'm not going to sit around for five or six years ... while waiting and hoping that the other provinces and federal government might come on board."

Younger said Ottawa's proposal to have an independent safety officer within the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board is good enough -- for now.

"It's a huge step ahead from where we were," he said. "It's not the same as having a completely separate organization, but it is a step forward."

The federal government has argued that the regulatory boards in Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador are already independent of the industry. When Bill C-5 was tabled last October, Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver said he did not support the "proliferation" of regulators because that would not improve safety, worker protection or environmental protection.

In 2011, while a member of the provincial Liberal Opposition, Younger said a stand-alone, independent watchdog was a must for Nova Scotia.

"When you're dealing with an inherently risky environment, it makes sense that you would have an independent agency or watchdog making sure that lives aren't lost and that you don't have injuries," he said at the time.

Younger's comments came nearly a year after an inquiry into an offshore helicopter crash called for the creation of an independent safety agency. The inquiry investigated the March 2009 crash of Cougar Flight 491, which plunged into the ocean near Newfoundland, killing 17 of the 18 people aboard.

The inquiry, led by retired judge Robert Wells, found serious flaws with the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board, the equivalent of Nova Scotia's offshore regulator. …

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