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NEWS: Harper strips NWT water boards of licensing power

APTN reports, “The Harper Government’s Northern Action Plan is forging ahead, and the first thing to go is local oversight for a little-known process of dealing with toxic waste water.”

“Until this year, the Northwest Territories local land and water boards were responsible for licensing ‘downhole injections,’ a process through which oil and gas companies get rid of the toxic fluid byproduct of drilling. To do so, the companies drill a well and, through a process similar to fracking itself, pump the liquid at high speeds into underground rock formations. That practice required oversight and public consultations from the land and water boards, who, if satisfied, issue a Type A license. Then, with one fell swoop of the regulatory pen, Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development changed the rules. With no debate, and no legislation, licensing decisions regarding downhole injections were now the sole responsibility of the Calgary based National Energy Board.”

“According to Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, the department responsible for regulating the land and water board system, the axing of the need to obtain a Type A water license from the land and water boards — was due to double-regulation. They said that the NEB already oversaw the projects; therefore there was no need for the territory to license the process at all. …The (Harper) government (also) plans on merging all the land and water boards together…”

“It’s good timing for industry. ConocoPhillips is looking to begin a fracking well this winter, and is in the midst of evaluation by both the land and water board and the NEB. The company refused comment on most questions, responding by email that they ‘respect the regulatory process’, but when asked about holding public consultations, a spokesperson did say that they offered a two-day workshop and a tour of their proposed site for those involved in the regulation process. …The ConocoPhillips plan submitted to the Sahtu Land and Water Board proposes that the company ship the toxic wastewater to Alberta. …The board could further accept or reject the project outright when they come to a decision this summer.”

The Horn River Formation is located in north-eastern British Columbia and extends to Great Slave Lake in the Northwest Territories. More than 500 trillion cubic feet of gas is in this formation considered one of the top gas reserves in North America.

For more, please read:
Government strips local oversight of handling toxic waste water in the North
UPDATE: Concerns about the Giant Mine in NWT persist
NEWS: NWT minister promotes ‘made-in-the-North’ tar sands pipeline