In his mandate letter to natural resources minister James Carr, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wrote:
“In particular, I will expect you to work with your colleagues and through established legislative, regulatory, and Cabinet processes to deliver on your top priorities:
…immediately review Canada’s environmental assessment processes to regain public trust and introduce new, fair processes that will:
restore robust oversight and thorough environmental assessments of areas under federal jurisdiction, while also working with provinces and territories to avoid duplication;
ensure that decisions are based on science, facts, and evidence, and serve the public’s interest;
provide ways for Canadians to express their views and opportunities for experts to meaningfully participate, including provisions to enhance the engagement of Indigenous groups in reviewing and monitoring major resource development projects…”
The Liberal platform this election also stated, “We will also ensure that environmental assessments include an analysis of upstream impacts and greenhouse gas emissions resulting from projects under review.”
And yet today Reuters reports, “Canada’s environmental review of existing applications for crude oil pipeline projects is continuing despite the new Liberal government’s plans to make the assessment process more robust, Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr said on Wednesday [Nov. 18]. ‘They have not stopped. The process continues’, he told reporters on a conference call.”
Carr said, “There will be a transition as we amend the ways in which the National Energy Board goes about the process of evaluating these projects, and we will announce those changes as soon as we can, but the process continues.”
The article adds, “Specifically addressing the Kinder Morgan application, Carr said the review was going ahead. He appeared less clear when asked about Energy East: ‘I understand that any changes that we make to the process will have an effect on projects. I know that it’s important, and we will be reviewing the situation and we will give you the results as soon as we can.'”
Earlier this week, the CBC reported, “[National Energy Board chair Peter] Watson has had a brief conversation with the new natural resources minister, James Carr, and will have more in-depth talks in the coming months. Watson realizes change is coming to the NEB, he’s just not sure how. …Watson said he will wait until the government paints a clear picture about what specifically that means. Until then, it’s largely business as usual at the national regulator, including reviewing pipeline projects proposed for the country.”
The Council of Canadians is demanding that the Trudeau government halt the National Energy Board reviews of the Energy East and Trans Mountain pipelines, launch an immediate public review of Canada’s environmental assessment processes, and implement a new process to ensure all proposed projects are assessed on the basis of their individual and cumulative impacts, their upstream and downstream climate pollution, among other actions.
While the NEB timeline for its review of the Energy East pipeline is not known, it is expected that the NEB will make its recommendation on the Kinder Morgan TransMountain pipeline expansion by May 20, 2016.
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