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Vol. 15, No. 11 Week of March 14, 2010
Providing coverage of Alaska and northern Canada's oil and gas industry

Untangling Mac line red tape; NEB calls for recommendation changes

Proponents of the Mackenzie Gas Project have waited the best part of a decade for a regulatory agency to streamline processing of their application.

But Canada’s National Energy Board has done what the partners, the wider industry and some government leaders have repeatedly urged.

The federal regulator said March 9 it is ready to modify 85 of the 176 recommendations issued late in 2009 by the Joint Review Panel that examined the environmental and socioeconomic impacts of the MGP.

In a letter to the JRP, the NEB said in its view “some recommendations fall within the jurisdiction of other regulatory authorities.”

“Conditions imposed by the NEB in such cases could conflict with existing and future regulatory processes. Therefore (the NEB) is considering not including such recommendations.”

The NEB is required to combine the JRP findings and its own conclusions about the economics of the MGP in a report to the Canadian government, setting the stage for a final decision in September. The NEB is scheduled to start the last phase of public hearings on April 12.

“If the satisfaction of conditions (recommended by the JRP) must be approved by others, accountability becomes unclear,” the NEB letter said.

“Multiple approvals for the same requirement do not contribute to achieving concrete results. Accordingly, the NEB considers it inappropriate to delegate these decisions to others by requiring their approval for conditions to be satisfied.”

A spokesman for Imperial Oil, the lead partner in the MGP consortium, told the Calgary Herald that his company’s intention is to provide comment on the proposed JRP conditions to the NEB before the April hearings.

He said it would be “inappropriate to comment outside of that process.”

Sheila Muxlow, acting director of the Prairie chapter of the Sierra Club, registered concern that the NEB was prepared to “brusquely” dismiss four years’ of work by the JRP “on ensuring economic and ecological sustainability and the need to examine the cumulative effects” of opening an Arctic oil and natural gas basin.

She said the NEB appeared to be taking a “business-as-usual” approach.

—Gary Park



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