Nature Canada Submits Comments on Mackenzie Gas Project Report
February 11, 2010 (Ottawa) – Nature Canada has submitted our official comments on the Mackenzie Gas Project Joint Review Panel (JRP) recommendations.
Nature Canada has several general recommendations to the National Energy Board (NEB) and the federal and territorial governments relating to the Panel's report, as well as more specific comments and recommendations relating to protected areas, Important Bird Areas (IBAs) and the Kendall Island Migratory Bird Sanctuary.
We also voice our opposition to the Proponents' recommendations that the NEB ignore a large part of the JRP recommendations. The Proponents attacked the Panel's approach to ensuring sustainability and managing cumulative effects, and suggested the NEB should reject all recommendations concerning future applications, rights and approvals. The JRP wrote a very thorough report explaining how cumulative impacts from development could be harmful and recommended measures to address this. In essence, the Proponents are saying this work should be disregarded. The Proponents' statements raise deep concerns about their commitment to the sustainable development of the region and serious questions as to whether authorizing the basin-opening Mackenzie Gas Project to proceed would be in the public interest.
Our overall message is to emphasize a critical statement in the Panel's report, that: "Achieving a net positive contribution would depend on the preparedness of governments and other institutions to undertake the monitoring, anticipatory planning, adaptive management and enforcement needed to ensure that the cumulative impacts of the Project and future developments are positive. The Panel's findings are contingent upon the timely adoption and successful implementation of its recommendations. In the absence of Panel recommended actions and commitments of the Proponents and governments, supported by the necessary resources and funding, the Project's impact on the environment would likely be significant and adverse."
"If the National Energy Board finds the project is in the public interest, we urge it to make full use of its regulatory authority to ensure that this Panel finding is effectively implemented," said Carla Sbert, Nature Canada's manager of conservation programs. "We also urge the federal and territorial governments, 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 table a plan with committed multi-year funding to implement these recommendations to the National Energy Board prior to the issuance of any licenses to the Mackenzie Gas Project by the NEB."
The National Energy Board has scheduled hearings in April 2010 to hear final arguments for and against the project before making decisions (possibly by September 2010) on whether to approve the Project, and if so under what conditions. However, Alternatives North has filed a motion requesting an economic update from the Proponents in light of the fact the latest economic assessment on file dates from 2007, and changes in the natural gas market might have altered the outlook. If the NEB rules in favour of this motion, the process may be further delayed.
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