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Joint Review Panel says natural gas should notfuel the tar sands

The Globe and Mail reports that the Joint Review Panel has issued its 679-page report on the proposed Mackenzie Valley natural gas pipeline, a “1,197-kilometre line would bring up to 1.2 billion cubic feet a day of natural gas from onshore basins near the Arctic coast (on the edge of the Beaufort Sea) to the northern edge of Alberta, where it would connect to the province’s distribution system.”

“The panel discarded arguments that the pipeline should be blocked on the grounds that it would be used to feed clean natural gas to the oil sands.”

“It did, however, recommend that the federal government establish a ‘preferential use of natural gas’ that would see gas used to replace, rather than boost, ‘more carbon-intensive and polluting fuels’.”

“That could mean keeping natural gas away from the oil sands, and instead using it to replace coal-fired electrical generation.”

“The report does not give formal approval to the pipeline to go ahead – that power lies with the National Energy Board, which is expected to rule in September – but its positive findings are a significant boost to the project.”

The Canwest News Service adds that, “In January (2009), federal Environment Minister Jim Prentice announced Ottawa would support the pipeline through infrastructure funding and other undisclosed means. However, discussions with the consortium (which includes Imperial Oil, Royal Dutch Shell, ConocoPhillips, and Exxon Mobil) have been at a stalemate for most of this year.”

The Joint Review Panel report is at