CALGARY — The National Energy Board has proposed changes to many of the recommendations a federally appointed panel made for the Mackenzie Gas Project in the Northwest Territories.
The federal energy regulator could tweak 85 of the 176 recommendations contained in the Joint Review Panel’s report into the environmental and socio-economic effects of the project.
“The NEB is considering modifying some of the recommendations to create conditions that have clearly stated desired end results, can be measured for compliance, and are goal-oriented,” the board wrote in a letter to the chair of the JRP.
The letter, posted the NEB website Wednesday, also said some of the recommendations fall outside its jurisdiction or apply to future developments that fall outside the scope of the Mackenzie applications.
Some of the recommendations geared toward the NEB also call for the approval of other parties.
“If the satisfaction of conditions must be approved by others, accountability becomes unclear,” the letter said.
“Multiple approvals for the same requirement do not contribute to achieving concrete results. Accordingly, the NEB considers it inappropriate to delegate these decisions to others by requiring their approval for conditions to be satisfied.”
The JRP must provide any comments to the proposed modifications by the end of this month.
The NEB is set to begin hearings into the project on April 12, and is expected to give its final decision on whether it should go ahead in September.
Environmental group Sierra Club of Canada says the conditions proposed by the NEB amount to a rejection of the JRP’s key findings.
“We are disappointed and dismayed that the National Energy Board has brusquely dismissed four years’ work by the Joint Review Panel in its proposed conditions,” said Sheila Muxlow, acting director of Sierra Club Prairie.
“The NEB is essentially rejecting the Joint Review Panel’s focus on ensuring economic and ecological sustainability, and the need to examine the cumulative effects of the basin-opening Mackenzie Gas Project.”
The $16.2-billion Mackenzie project would connect natural gas fields near the coast of the Beaufort Sea to southern markets.
Imperial Oil Ltd. (TSX:IMO) is the lead partner in the project, which also includes its U.S. parent ExxonMobil Corp. (NYSE:XOM), ConocoPhillips (NYSE:COP), Royal Dutch Shell (NYSE:RDS) and the Aboriginal Pipeline Group, which acts on behalf of communities along the pipeline’s route.
Pipeline giant TransCanada Corp. (TSX:TRP) is also involved in the project, since the Arctic gas would be fed into its vast Alberta network.