The Canadian and Northwest Territories governments have added another layer of cooperation to the environmental review of the proposed Mackenzie Valley pipeline, establishing a Joint Coordinating Committee that will bring seven federal and four Northwest Terrtitories departments under the same umbrella.
The move is in line with the joint review panel that has pulled together members of government, aboriginal communities and the Mackenzie Valley Environmental Impact Review Board that is expected to start hearings in April.
The 720-mile pipeline from the Mackenzie Delta to northern Alberta is expected to cost about C$3.8 billion, more than half the combined C$7 billion preliminary budget for the Mackenzie Gas Project.
Under pressure from industry leaders to increase their cooperation and help streamline the complex regulatory process, the Canadian and Northwest Territories governments see the joint coordinating committee as one way to reduce the potential for confusion, conflict and overlap in the environmental review phase.
Jon Pierce, co-chair of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, told the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. that the governments have organized themselves to provide their best advice and technical expertise.
Peter Vician, the Northwest Territories’ deputy minister of resources, wildlife and economic development, said the new committee will be a benefit for the examination of the environmental impact statement and offer some coordination to the Mackenzie proponents.
The importance of regulatory regimes speeding up approvals of the Mackenzie and Alaska gas projects was underscored at a conference last month by Stephen Letwin, vice president, gas strategy, with Enbridge.
“We’re going to have to stop the fighting … and work together to get these projects done,” he said. “It’s going to require cooperation among producers, pipeliners, governments, aboriginal groups, suppliers, labor unions.
“It’s a win-win for everybody if we can get this under way,” he said. “We’ve said it enough times. Let’s get it done.”