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Pipeliners Fight Federal Impact Assessment Act While Alberta Pushes for Exemptions

Canada’s pipeline, electricity, and mining industries are lobbying against the federal government’s new Impact Assessment Act, even as Premier Rachel Notley pushes to get her province’s pipeline and tar sands/oil sands projects exempted from climate reviews under the new legislation.

While industry lobbyists argued the legislation tilts the balance away from timely project approvals, environmental groups complain it has not gone far enough in ensuring development is sustainable and environmentally benign,” the Globe and Mail reports. The industry associations “point to the broad and ill-defined nature of the bill’s ‘sustainability’ test, under which regulators will not only assess environmental issues but broader social concerns such as Indigenous reconciliation and gender impacts.

In what the Globe calls a “scathing submission to the committee”, the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association claims the government is chasing away investment by putting new hurdles in front of future projects.

“We have a vast resource base,” said CEPA President Chris Bloomer. “It’s going to need new infrastructure, but it’s really hard to imagine that somebody is going to propose a major new project to ensure that those resources get developed.”

He questioned whether the new legislation would “provide the clarity and certainty for those projects to go ahead.”

Francis Bradley, chief operating officer at the Canadian Electricity Association, agreed the new rules would “discourage worthy investments”.

Mining Association of Canada President Pierre Gratton supported elements of the bill that clarify timelines and establish a bigger role for Indigenous communities. But he complained that C-69 incorporates a “double standard” that will require new mines, but not energy projects, to restart the assessment process if they’re already in the queue before the bill passes.

In Alberta, United Conservative Party leader Jason Kenney called on the provincial legislature to pass a motion opposing C-69, a move that Notley spokesperson Cheryl Oates called “simplistic and premature”. In an email to the Globe, Oates said Alberta is “working closely with the federal government, and discussions are well under way on exemptions, as well as ensuring that Alberta’s interests are protected.” She added that “we are actively seeking exemptions for oil sands as well as pipelines, due to our substantial action on climate change.”