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NEWS: Pipeline industry called for changes to Navigable Waters Protection Act

The Canadian Press reports, “Documents obtained through the Access to Information Act show (that the radical overhaul of the Navigable Waters Protection Act in the last omnibus bill) came, in part, from the pipeline industry. The Canadian Energy Pipeline Association met with senior government officials in the fall of 2011, urging them not just to streamline environmental assessments, but also to bring in ‘new regulations under (the) Navigable Waters Protection Act’, a CEPA slide presentation shows.”

“Their plea was for Ottawa to clean up a messy system, strengthen their oversight if need be, but also fix archaic legislation like the Navigable Waters Protection Act, which subjected pipelines to another layer of scrutiny even though pipelines are almost always drilled underneath waterways and don’t impact the water.”

“The first budget omnibus bill in June contained a replacement for the Environmental Assessment Act and also a provision to remove pipelines and power lines from provisions of the Navigable Waters Protection Act. …But then the government surprised many close observers by going even further in a second omnibus bill, C-45. The Navigable Waters Protection Act was changed to the Navigation Protection Act, significantly reducing its scope over Canada’s waters.”

“Now, as U.S. President Barack Obama has signalled his intention to focus on climate change, the Harper cabinet is scrambling to tout its green credentials and prove the worthiness of Canadian pipelines — especially since Obama’s decision on the Keystone XL pipeline is pending.”

“A copy of the Oct. 27 presentation made (by the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association) to then-deputy minister of trade Louis Levesque was obtained by Greenpeace Canada and shared with The Canadian Press.”

Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow has written, “The Harper government killed the Navigable Waters Protection Act, stripping protections from 99 per cent of lakes and rivers in Canada. Major pipelines and interprovincial power lines now have the green light to cross over and under more than 31,000 lakes and 2.25 million rivers without federal scrutiny. …The cuts made by the Harper government to Canada’s environmental laws were spelled out in a December 2012 letter obtained by Greenpeace. The letter revealed that the oil and gas industry, through a group called the Energy Framework Initiative that includes the major players in the industry, outlined six laws (including the Navigable Waters Protection Act) it wanted amended in order for it to do its work. …A report by the Polaris Institute found that the Canadian energy industry has been given unrivalled access to the Harper government in recent years. Since 2008, there have been 2,733 meetings held between the oil industry and federal government officials, many of them cabinet ministers, a number that outstrips meetings with environmental organizations by 463 per cent.”

The Canadian Press article can be read at http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/pipeline-industry-pushed-environmental-changes-made-in-omnibus-bill-documents-show/article8894850/. Barlow’s commentary can be read in ‘Common Causes: Progressive forces acting together to build a better society’ at http://canadians.org/commoncauses/.