Canada and Quebec are set to introduce legislation that would eventually allow for offshore oil and gas development in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
The federal government announced Tuesday plans to implement 2011's Canada-Quebec Accord, which sets the groundwork for them to jointly manage petroleum resources in the region.
It is estimated that there are 39 trillion cubic feet of gas and 1.5 billion barrels of oil in the Gulf.
"Once passed, this legislation will enable the safe and environmentally-responsible development of petroleum resources in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, creating jobs, revenues and growth for the province," said a news release.
The measure would see the establishment of an "independent offshore board," similar to bodies such as the Canada Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (C-NLOPB).
But the move is certain to generate protest from groups already opposed to resource extraction in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
Last July, leaders of First Nations called for a 12-year moratorium on oil and gas development in the region, The Chronicle Herald reported.
Activist group the Save Our Seas and Shores Coalition (SOSS) this week announced its support for the moratorium, which came as the group called on the C-NLOPB to stop extending licences for Corridor Resources, a company that is looking to drill for oil and gas at Old Harry, a site in the Gulf.
A simulation released by the David Suzuki Foundation in 2010 showed a scenario in which an oil spill at Old Harry could lead to environmental damage in five provinces — including Quebec.
Other opponents have noted that species such as blue whales, belugas and bluefin tuna have been spotted in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and could be at risk if development is allowed to move forward.
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