Nature Canada Statement: National Energy Board Should Embrace Joint Review Panel's Sustainability Approach for the Mackenzie Gas Project
April 12, 2010 (Yellowknife/Ottawa) – In December 2009, the Joint Review Panel (JRP) for the Mackenzie Gas Project concluded that the project could be environmentally sustainable if all 176 of the Panel's recommendations were fully implemented. In its March 2010 response, the National Energy Board (NEB) did not consider a number of the Panel's recommendations and rejected several recommendations that address ways to mitigate the cumulative effects of this pipeline project, and future projects.
Nature Canada is deeply concerned that the NEB's proposed modifications to the Panel's recommendations would allow the construction of the pipeline without first putting in place necessary safeguards to ensure the region's wildlife and habitat are protected. With this approach, the NEB is showing a disregard for the aspirations of sustainability expressed by First Nations and other northerners, as captured in the JRP report.
Of particular interest to Nature Canada are the JRP recommendations for stringent protection of the region's sole federal protected area, Kendall Island Migratory Bird Sanctuary, and for designating the Mackenzie Delta as a special management area to protect the Delta’s migratory bird populations and other marine wildlife when and if natural gas development induced by the Mackenzie Gas Project ramps up. Nature Canada is also concerned that the project may be allowed to have a negative impact on the seven Important Bird Areas (IBAs) in the Mackenzie watershed. These IBAs include key breeding and staging areas from Great Slave Lake to the Mackenzie Delta and should be protected under the Northwest Territories Protected Areas Strategy (NWTPAS)—one of the areas the NEB has ignored in its response.
Nature Canada will not be presenting final argument at these hearings because we are not an intervener before the NEB. However, we are looking to the NEB, if they support a conclusion that the Mackenzie Gas Project is in the public interest, to accept all 176 of the Panel's recommendations and obtain firm, funded commitments from the federal and territorial governments to implement the recommendations of the JRP before approving licenses for the project. We hope the NEB will not miss the opportunity to show its stated commitment to sustainability by embracing the Panel's integral approach to sustainability for the Mackenzie Valley.
For more information, please contact:
Stephen Hazell, Advisor