Harper Govt. Sets Deadline for Enbridge Panel Review Amid Serious Concerns About the Company, Project


Read this story from CBC.ca on the Harper’s Government’s new deadline for the completion of the ongoing Joint Review Panel into the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline, amid concerns raised about the proponent and the project raised by BC Conservative MP James Moore. (Aug. 3, 2012)

The federal government has set a firm deadline of Dec. 31, 2013, for the review panel deciding the future of the Northern Gateway pipeline, shutting down the possibility of further extensions and putting into place the expedited assessment process pledged in its budget implementation bill.

But the written notice issued by the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency Friday comes on the heels of comments from the senior Harper government minister in B.C., James Moore, who told a radio program in Vancouver on Wednesday that doubts about the Northern Gateway project are “widespread, given the behaviour of Enbridge recently.”

Moore denied repeatedly that the federal government’s goal is to “ram through the pipeline.” But he did not reply to interview requests Friday seeking clarification as to whether his comments reflected a possible change in direction or message for federal Conservatives.

In an emailed statement provided to CBC News in response to an interview request seeking clarification of the government’s position, Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver’s office repeated well-used lines about the federal government’s “critical strategic objective” of “diversification of our energy markets” in order to “create jobs and economic growth.”

“We will continue to work in partnership with the provincial governments to encourage achieving this objective,” the statement said. “In particular to the Northern Gateway project, it is currently before the Joint Review Panel who are reviewing all the environmental considerations to make sure it is safe for the environment and Canadians. We look forward to reviewing their report once it is completed.”

In an interview Friday on CBC News Network’s Power & Politics, Peter Julian, the NDP Natural Resources critic who represents the B.C. riding of Burnaby-New Westminster, said the federal government’s doublespeak just isn’t going to fly with Canadians.

“The Conservatives are playing this dangerous game where in B.C. they’re acknowledging the widespread negative reaction of the Northern Gateway proposal, and at the same time in Ottawa they’re trying to impose and move forward on something that British Columbians will simply not accept,” Julian told guest host Hannah Thibedeau.

Friday’s notice from the federal assessment agency confirmed the changes implemented in the government’s budget bill, which came into force on July 6. The changes to the joint review panel’s mandate set a maximum time limit for the panel’s work, concluding at the end of 2013 without further extensions.

Under the changes, the joint review panel can’t reject the pipeline project for only environmental reasons.

Once the review panel submits its report, the federal government will make the final decision on the pipeline within 180 days (approximately six months), before the end of June 2014.

Read more: http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/story/2012/08/03/pol-pipeline-moore-gateway.html