National Energy Board rejects greener energy future for Mackenzie gas pipeline

Image by rcbodden via Flickr

Edmonton – In the wake of the National Energy Board’s approval of the Mackenzie Gas Project, environmental groups are charging that the decision flies in the face of the Board’s stated commitment to sustainability and overturns years of study by a review panel.

“It’s a tall order for a massive fossil fuel project to contribute to sustainability, but the NEB’s decision takes Canada in the opposite direction,” said Sheila Muxlow, director of Sierra Club Prairie. “The only conclusion we can draw is that the NEB is still locked in the status-quo reliance on fossil fuels, which offers no plan for a transition into a greener energy future.”

The NEB’s approval endorses the federal and NWT governments’ rejection of sustainability measures set out by a Joint Review Panel (JRP). The review, which included four prominent northerners and spent years studying the project’s potential impacts, detailed 176 recommendations to reduce the project’s negative impacts and ensure its environmental, economic and social sustainability.

“The NEB has effectively rejected key recommendations from the JRP that were carefully designed to proactively control cumulative impacts from induced development, and to ensure wise end-use of the delivered gas,” said Keith Ferguson, Ecojustice staff lawyer.

The massive gas project will span 1200 kilometres and includes the development of three initial gas fields, posing a direct threat to a migratory bird sanctuary, endangered wildlife species and hundreds of streams and rivers. The pipeline is also designed to trigger the development of dozens of additional gas fields in the future, widening the project’s impact on the surrounding environment. (See Nature Canada for some background about what’s at stake with the project.)

“The NEB has just approved infrastructure that will lock us into decades of continued reliance on burning fossil fuels, much of it at the tar sands, with no credible plan for reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” said Stephen Hazell, advisor to Sierra Club Prairie. “It’s astonishing that the NEB, which claims to believe in sustainability, has sentenced us to yet more unsustainable energy use.”

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