Re­vamped re­views

New pol­icy re­quires look at up­stream green­house gas emis­sions, more con­sul­ta­tion with Abo­rig­i­nal Peo­ples

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - BUSINESS -

The fed­eral govern­ment is re­vamp­ing the way re­source projects are re­viewed in Canada - changes that in­clude a re­quire­ment to look at up­stream green­house gas emis­sions.

The new pol­icy, which the govern­ment calls a tran­si­tion step while it ham­mers out new per­ma­nent rules, will also re­quire more con­sul­ta­tion with Canada’s Abo­rig­i­nal Peo­ples.

The changes ap­ply to two con­tentious pipe­line projects that are cur­rently dom­i­nat­ing head­lines: the pro­posed Trans Moun­tain oil pipe­line in B.C. and Tran­sCanada’s En­ergy East pro­ject from Al­berta to New Brunswick.

But they’ll also ap­ply to all re­source projects, in­clud­ing LNG and min­ing pro­pos­als.

“We be­lieve it is im­por­tant and, in fact, es­sen­tial to re­build Cana­di­ans’ trust in our en­vi­ron­men­tal as­sess­ment pro­cesses,” En­vi­ron­ment Min­is­ter Cather­ine McKenna told a news con­fer­ence Wed­nes­day. “We need to take into ac­count the views and con­cerns of Cana­di­ans, re­spect the rights and in­ter­ests of in­dige­nous peo­ples and sup­port our nat­u­ral re­sources sec­tor.”

Hear­ings on Kin­der Mor­gan’s Trans Moun­tain twin­ning pro­ject are al­most over and the govern­ment is ex­tend­ing the dead­line for a de­ci­sion by four months, push­ing it to next De­cem­ber.

As for En­ergy East, the govern­ment is ex­tend­ing the pro­ject re­view pe­riod by an ex­tra six months and adding three tem­po­rary mem­bers to the Na­tional En­ergy Board in an ef­fort to do greater pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion.

Tran­sCanada spokesman Mark Cooper said the com­pany needs time to di­gest the new rules.

“We sup­port a strong and clear reg­u­la­tory frame­work that helps Cana­di­ans see our com­mit­ment to build­ing and op­er­at­ing oil and gas pipe­lines in the safest and most en­vi­ron­men­tally sound way pos­si­ble,” he said in an emailed state­ment.

“Tran­sCanada op­er­ates in a highly reg­u­lated in­dus­try. We will con­tinue to work with all lev­els of govern­ment and our reg­u­la­tors to en­sure the con­tin­ued safe and en­vi­ron­men­tally sound trans­porta­tion of our nat­u­ral re­sources to mar­ket.”

A de­ci­sion on En­ergy East is now not ex­pected be­fore the middle of 2018.

The new as­sess­ment rules stress the re­quire­ment for in­put from in­dige­nous com­mu­ni­ties; the govern­ment says it will pro­vide fund­ing to as­sist those de­lib­er­a­tions.

Nat­u­ral Re­sources Min­is­ter Jim Carr said the changes will pro­vide pipe­line pro­po­nents greater cer­tainty about the time in­volved in reach­ing de­ci­sions.

“If we’re go­ing to at­tract the in­vest­ments we need to sus­tain­ably de­velop our en­ergy re­sources, then we have to bet­ter en­gage Cana­di­ans, con­duct deeper con­sul­ta­tions with in­dige­nous peo­ples and base de­ci­sions on sci­ence, facts and ev­i­dence,” Carr said.

At least one ad­vo­cate hailed the changes as more ev­i­dence of a new con­sul­ta­tive, en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly ap­proach to re­source de­vel­op­ment, but com­plained that En­ergy East would be al­lowed to pro­ceed un­der the new process.

CP PHOTO

Nat­u­ral Re­sources Min­is­ter James Carr and Min­is­ter of En­vi­ron­ment and Cli­mate Change Cather­ine McKenna pre­pare to hold a joint news con­fer­ence on pipe­lines in Ottawa Wed­nes­day.

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