Friday, December 16, 2011

CEAA Review: More streamlining would be beneficial to economic development (CTVNews)

Ottawa wants to streamline environmental reviews

SHAWN McCARTHY - The Globe and Mail

Ottawa is planning to overhaul the country’s environmental assessment process to ensure major energy and mining projects aren’t jeopardized by unnecessary delays, Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver says.

The federal government has already moved to streamline the environmental review process, but Mr. Oliver said more will be done to eliminate inefficiencies, exempt small projects from review and eventually work out deals with provinces to provide a “one project, one review” approach.

While Ottawa hopes to work with the provinces to eliminate duplication, Mr. Oliver said it won’t wait, but will act alone to streamline the process.

“We need to make the regulatory process more predictable, more timely, less duplicative,” he said Monday. “We respect the integrity of the regulatory process but we do need to get these projects approved.”

He points to the lengthy and highly politicized U.S. State Department review of TransCanada Corp.’s Keystone XL as an object lesson in what to avoid, while industry officials raise concerns that Enbridge Inc.’s Northern Gateway pipeline may face similar delays.

Critics say the government is gutting the environmental assessment system to ensure ecological concerns don’t get in the way of industry’s development plans.

Energy and mining executives have complained loudly in recent years that the environmental review process is too cumbersome and time consuming, adding costly delays which drive up the price for capital-intensive projects.

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