Review Panel Releases Mackenzie Gas Project Report
December 31, 2009 – (Ottawa) The future of the mighty Mackenzie River – and the "basin-opening" pipeline megaproject that threatens to forever change it – has become clearer, with the release of a long-anticipated environmental assessment report.
A Joint Review Panel, tasked by the government to report on the environmental, socio-economic and cultural effects of the Mackenzie Gas Project, released its findings Wednesday, over two years after the panel's hearings ended in 2007.
The panel concluded that if all of its 176 recommendations were fully implemented, the project would likely be beneficial and have no significant adverse impacts. “However, the panel’s recommendations make clear that huge efforts would be required to mitigate the impacts of this project on wildlife and the environment,” said Carla Sbert of Nature Canada.
The Mackenzie Gas Project is estimated to cost at least CDN $16 billion before any of the Panel's recommendations are implemented, though implementing the recommendations will surely increase the costs. The project involves three major natural gas production fields north of Inuvik and two underground natural gas pipelines (the longest is 1,220 km) to carry the gas south along the Mackenzie Valley to northern Alberta. Other pipelines would be built connecting other gas fields to the main pipelines.
"We welcome the panel’s recognition of the need for a network of protected areas and measures to protect migratory birds and other wildlife and its habitat, but we remain greatly concerned with the project because there is no guarantee that the conditions the panel recommends would actually be fully implemented if the project is approved.” said Sbert. “For example, the panel has recommended stringent measures to protect birds and bird habitat in Kendall Island Migratory Bird Sanctuary, including regulations and offset areas free of additional industrial development. We will engage to ensure full implementation of the panel’s recommendations if the project is approved.”
At the Joint Review Panel's hearings in 2007, Nature Canada argued that the full impact of the project on the lands, water and wildlife of this unique environment would leave an unacceptable footprint.
If allowed to proceed, the project would:
The report includes detailed recommendations on these issues. Nature Canada spokesperson Carla Sbert is available to provide an initial response to the Joint Review Panel’s recommendations. The National Energy Board expects to hear final arguments for and against the project in April 2010 before making its decision in September on whether to grant a permit.
For More Information, Contact:
Carla Sbert, Manager of Conservation Programs
Chris Sutton, Communications Manager