Prime Minster Stephen Harper, along with Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver, is seeking faster environmental reviews to move projects along at a quicker rate. Under the proposed changes to the review process, the Canadian Federal Government desires to have a single review board for each individual project with a clearly defined and enforceable deadline for decisions to be rendered. Oliver claims the provinces and territories are broadly on board which would mean eliminating regional environmental reviews that are generally held in conjunction with the federal ones. Oliver states,
“The Mackenzie Valley gas pipeline process took nine years to be approved, Joslyn North[oilsands mine] took six years. This is excessive.”
Nevertheless, he assures that “legitimate” intervention by environmentally concerned Canadians and aboriginal peoples will still be appropriately addressed but emphasized that strict enforceable timelines need to be adhered to. Oliver poignantly directed this comment towards so called “radicals” who he along with the Federal Government claim are slowing down and abusing the process, thereby continuing to perpetuate rhetoric towards environmentalists who they see as an unnecessary impediment towards economical progress.
Ironically, it is very likely that anyone who is just as steadfast as the Federal Government is to further their interests by pushing through industrial projects as environmentalists are to pointing out the dangers of it are labeled “radicals.” Understandably so, concerned environmental groups and activists are appalled by the Federal Government’s desire to have the environmental review process streamlined and shortened so that it will fit their objectives. Environmental lawyer Josh Petersen states,
“massive industrial projects take a long time to study. We think that there are many improvements that need to be made to the federal regulatory system to enhance environmental protection, [w]orrying that they take too long is near the bottom of our list.”
If nothing else, Oliver and Petersen are in agreement that the review process needs to change.
Photo by Joy Acharjee