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Trudeau to Introduce New Pipeline Review Process

Monday, February 12, 2018

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The Canadian government announced Thursday (Feb. 8) that its pipeline review process will be streamlined, changing some rules for environmental and regulatory approvals, while also toughening some environmental standards.

According to Bloomberg, the Canadian government estimates CA$500 billion ($397 billion) to be invested in major domestic resource projects over the next decade.

Regulation Changes

In response to an erosion of public trust, the Canadian government implemented interim principles for project reviews in January 2016, then launched an extensive law review while seeking resident input over a 14-month period.

Kbq430, CC-Zero, via Wikimedia Commons

The Canadian government announced Thursday (Feb. 8) that the pipeline review process will be streamlined, which includes new rules for environmental and regulatory approvals, while also toughening some environmental standards.

The updated, streamlined process includes:

  • More comprehensive impact assessments, which entails replacing the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012, with the Impact Assessment Act, and expanding the types of impacts factored into decision-making;
  • Reducing duplication and red tape by establishing the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada (currently the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency) as the leader for all federal reviews of major projects;
  • More timely decisions, which includes reduced timelines for project reviews, with fewer legislative steps;
  • Revising the project list by identifying endeavors that could pose major risks to the environment; and
  • Increasing funding by investing CA$1.01 billion over five years to support the proposed new impact assessment regime.

Industry Feedback

Chris Bloomer, chief executive officer of the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association, told Bloomberg that this new review process was sweeping, and that there was still concern that it would not create the certainty needed.

One concern that remains is how climate-change emissions may impact project evaluations.

“It’s introduced a whole bunch of broad public policy issues into the evaluation process and we need to understand how this is all going to mesh,” said Bloomer.

More detail is also needed to ensure a more streamlined process, and to clear up other parts of the plan, noted Tim McMillan, president of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers.

The government is also planning to shorten maximum review times from 720 days to 600.

“Ensuring more timely and predictable project reviews will attract investment and development that creates good, middle-class jobs for Canadians,” said Environment Minister Catherine McKenna.

Robert Kwan, of RBC Dominion Securities Inc., said that the company did not “think that any of the changes should materially impact the share prices for the companies that have projects that will be reviewed by the CER.”

It has not yet been determined if in-situ oil sands mines will be subject to federal review; it depends on the outcome of a consultation and the location of the mine. As it stands, the government is reportedly considering exempting them as long as a “hard cap” is in place regarding emissions.


Tagged categories: Government; Infrastructure; Pipeline; Pipelines; Project Management

Comment from Michael Halliwell, (2/12/2018, 12:35 PM)

One major concern I have heard voiced is that it will tie all upstream and downstream greenhouse gas emissions to the pipeline for the everything from extraction to final use of the refined product (i.e. gas and diesel) in vehicles. If that carries though, I'm sure there will be enough environmental issues raised to prevent the building of any pipelines for quite some time.

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