Monday, November 24, 2014

Kent nixes gas project

OTTAWA—The federal government has vetoed an Alberta gas project proposed by Cenovus Energy because it would have threatened the habitat of 19 species at risk.
Cenovus Energy initially proposed to drill up to 1,275 shallow gas wells in the CFB Suffield national wildlife area—doubling the number of wells that were in place before the area was declared a protected zone.

It’s the first decision Environment minister Peter Kent has announced since the government passed new, streamlined environmental assessment rules amid much controversy last spring.
“It’s clear the adverse environmental effects that would be caused by the proposed project are significant,” Kent told reporters outside the House of Commons.
“As a result, I’ve decided that the project will not be granted federal approval to proceed.
“The environmental impacts are simply too great,” he stressed.
The project was assessed by a joint Ottawa-Alberta review panel that started its work in 2006 and released its findings in 2009.
It then took three more years to determine how fragile the ecosystem of the area actually was, set up recovery plans for the species at risk, and then make a final decision on the proposal.
“This decision is a clear indication of our government’s commitment to strengthening environmental protection which, as you know, is a crucial pillar of our government’s responsible, resource development plan,” Kent said.
He added the decision proves his critics were wrong and the new process does not rubber-stamp resource development.
Cenovus has the right to try again for approval with a revised proposal, but Kent held out little hope for a change of heart.
“There would be significant disruption, I would think, even under a new proposal.”
The opposition NDP was not impressed.
Critic Megan Leslie said it’s been obvious for years that the Cenovus proposal was a no-go, and the minister left his formal recognition of that fact until the eve of United Nations’ climate negotiations where Canada’s reputation is taking a beating.
“It’s amazing that the minister has set the bar so low that just doing his job is newsworthy,” Leslie said in an e-mail.

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