The Mackenzie Gas Project is now in the hands of Canada’s National Energy Board to deliver a final regulatory decision, having gained a mixed bag of support from the Canadian and Northwest Territories governments.
As expected, a joint report from the two governments accepted the intent of a “vast majority” of the 176 recommendations from the federally appointed Joint Review Panel that evaluated the environmental and socioeconomic impacts of the proposal.
But the two environment ministers — Canada’s John Baird and the NWT’s Michael Miltenberger — said a number of the panel’s recommendations were outside the scope of its mandate.
The Canadian government said it understood the panel “heard concerns from many members of the public” on environmental issues, but said that was not a matter to be “dealt with in a project-specific environmental assessment.”
GHG regulations rejectedAs a result, it rejected the panel’s call for legislation or regulations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and for the MGP to meet Canada’s current climate change targets.
It also rejected recommendations calling for annual progress reports analyzing and assessing environmental protection measures for the project.
Baird said his government is committed to “implementing the appropriate mitigation measures to protect the environment and address the social, cultural and economic impacts associated with the proposed project.”
Miltenberger said the NWT supported a balanced approach to sustainable development for all sectors of the economy.
He said his government is confident that, if the MGP proceeds, it will “provide tangible benefits” for NWT residents and that environmental and socioeconomic impacts will be minimized.
Decision could come within a monthImperial Oil spokesman Pius Rolheiser told Petroleum News that although it would not be appropriate for the partners to comment on a report from governments to the NEB it was pleased to see that phase completed.
He said the proponents have been given reason to believe that the NEB will issue its final decision within a month.
Assuming the NEB approves the application, Rolheiser said the next stages over 2011 and 2012 include examining the regulator’s conditions, making “sufficient” progress on a fiscal framework with the Canadian government, resuming engineering and field work and obtaining thousands of permits required.
If those tasks are accomplished, a final corporate decision could be made in 2013, he said.