New pipeline rules mean more consultation, but consensus unlikely: Carr
Emily Chan, CTVNews.ca
Published Sunday, January 31, 2016 11:18AM EST
Days after the Liberal government announced new interim rules for regulating pipelines, Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr says he knows there will never be a Canadian consensus when it comes to the controversial projects.
"We will not be 100 per cent on this," Carr told CTV's Question Period. "There will be people who always think that the regulatory process wasn't good enough. There will be people who think that nothing should be built. And there are others who think that anything should be built without any regulatory process at all."
Despite this, the minister said he believes the majority of Canadians support more thorough consultations when it comes to pipeline projects.
The new government regulations, which were announced on Wednesday, will require more transparency on greenhouse gas emissions and additional discussions with indigenous communities. The government says the revamped rules will serve as a "transitional step" as it establishes more permanent regulations for the review process.
To give more time for the revised evaluations, the government has also extended the review periods for two major proposed projects: the TransMountain pipeline expansion through B.C., and the Energy East pipeline which would take oil from Alberta to New Brunswick.
Both projects will now have an additional six months for review, pushing the final decision on TransMountain back to December, 2016, and the Energy East decision back to mid-2018 at the earliest.
"What we are doing now is establishing a new set of principles that will govern more consultation for those projects that are currently under review," Carr said. "People will have a chance to give us their opinion on that from every perspective, from indigenous communities to industry to environmental groups."
Carr called the new review process the "best chance" for developing sustainable methods of transporting oil to overseas markets.
But despite the opportunity for more Canadians to voice their opinions, Carr said the government will ultimately decide the pipelines' fates.
"It's going to be the cabinet that decides, in the national interest and on balance, whether or not these projects will go ahead," he said.
While Carr touted the new regulations as a step in the right direction, Conservative Natural Resources Critic Candice Bergen said the rules will only serve to slow down an already "onerous" process.
"The Liberals have been constantly undermining the NEB (National Energy Board) and now they're adding this additional roadblock in the process that nobody's happy with," Bergen said.
Bergen spoke about her recent experiences in B.C., where she said she met with a number of First Nations community members who support pipelines and believe in their economic benefits.
In order to be competitive with oil producers in the U.S., Bergen said Canada cannot continue to delay pipeline production.
"We are now at an unfair … disadvantage with our competitors because of what the Trudeau government has just announced," she said. "We need a pipeline coming out of Alberta. It needs to go right to the East Coast, not only for Alberta, but for New Brunswick and for all of Canada."
Meanwhile, NDP Environment Critic Nathan Cullen lauded the "intent" behind the new regulations, but said the current Liberal plan is short on details.
"It's not 1950. The ability to just sort of push things through communities and by important environments is no longer the same as it was," he said. "So public support is important … the goal is right."
The MP for the B.C. riding of Skeena-Bulkley Valley said there needs to be more concrete numbers and guidelines around greenhouse gasses. "I left the briefing with more questions than answers," he said.