Date of Award

1985

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Marine Affairs

Abstract

The concept of harnessing the tides for energy is receiving renewed attention in the maritime provinces of Canada and northeastern United States where a scarcity of indigenous energy resources exists. While proposals for several small tidal power facilities are being considered in Maine, in Canada, Nova Scotia officials are moving ahead with plans for a major tidal power project (4,028 MW) in the Minas Basin in the Bay of Fundy. The vast majority of the power generated from this facility is expected to be exported to the New York and New England areas which have a greater energy demand that the maritime provinces. Although tidal power facilities have been proposed for the Minas Basin in the past, a recent update of the current economic feasibility of such a project shows the benefits far surpassing the costs. However, while tidal power is traditionally considered to have minimal impacts on the environment, there is some scientific evidence which suggests that the proposed facility may affect the tidal regime as far south as Cape Cod, Massachusetts due to the unique oceanographic conditions found in the Gulf of Maine and Bay of Fundy. A recent analysis undertaken through funding by the Maine State Planning Office indicates that such an alteration to the tidal regime could have far-reaching environmental consequences ranging from loss of terrestrial habitats to possible weather modification. In addition to these physical consequences however, this project could have significant implications for environmental law. This thesis examines both international environmental law and the domestic laws of Canada and the United States which attempt to protect the transboundary environment. Canadian-United States practice with prior transboundary environmental problems is examined with respect to how these disputes have been settled in the past. The results of this analysis suggest that there are several deficiencies in the present international and domestic legal framework which do not adequately protect the transboundary environment. The boundary Waters Treaty of 1909 and its working mechanism, the International Join Commission do, however, appear to provide the necessary base for addressing transboundary environmental problems and need to be utilized to a greater extent in resolving environmental disputes between the two countries.