Our last "official" word on the Mackenzie Gas Project

Nature Canada has been involved in the review of the Mackenzie Gas Project since 2005. Last week, we made our last official intervention by submitting comments on the Joint Review Panel (JRP) recommendations to the National Energy Board (NEB) and the federal and territorial governments. The JRP concluded the Mackenzie Gas Project could be carried out without major negative impacts if all of its 176 recommendations were fully implemented.

I’ve commented before on the huge challenge of implementing the Panel’s recommendations. However, if the National Energy Board determines the project is in the public interest and decides to approve it, the NEB and governments should take every measure to ensure all the JRP recommendations are indeed implemented fully. This is the essence of our comments to the NEB and the territorial and federal governments, which also include specific comments and recommendations relating to protected areas, Important Bird Areas (IBAs) and the Kendall Island Migratory Bird Sanctuary.

We also argue against the Proponents’ recommendations that the NEB ignore a large part of the JRP recommendations. This would undermine the approach of sustainability that the region has chosen for its development. The Proponents show deep disregard of the JRP’s efforts to ensure this basin-opening project is the foundation of the sustainable development of the region. Given this lack of commitment to sustainability, I can’t imagine it could be in the public interest for the Mackenzie Gas Project to proceed. There’s too much at stake.

Another show of disregard for sustainability came yesterday from the new Minister of Natural Resources, Christian Paradis. While acknowledging that he has a lot to learn still, he pointed to the Mackenzie Gas Project review as an example of the “red tape” he means to eliminate to facilitate industrial development projects. He also said he believes in balancing the environment with the economy. Perhaps among the things he has yet to learn is that there is no economy without the environment; and that if sustainable industrial development can be achieved it is only through, among many other things, careful assessment and planning. And yes, this takes time and it is not easy. There is too much at stake.

The NEB is considering a motion by Alternatives North for an economic update from the Proponents. If the NEB rules in favour of this motion, the hearings for final argument currently scheduled for April 2010, will likely be postponed.

Why does the Mackenzie Gas Project threaten the integrity of the Mackenzie valley?