Saskatchewan government concerned new regulations target energy industry
Pipeline projects to face new environmental regulations
The Saskatchewan government is concerned that new environmental regulations will hinder progress in the energy and gas industry.
Trade Minister Jeremy Harrison said the National Energy Board process, as it exists right now, is sufficient.
"We are concerned about what we heard. We would like to see a lot more information about what the details are going to mean," Harrison said.
On Wednesday, the federal government announced that pipeline projects will face a new environmental assessment process. The government is launching an interim review process that will impose more steps on projects such as Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain and TransCanada's Energy East pipelines before they can be built.
Moving forward, the environment ministry will analyze greenhouse gas emissions that would result from approving pipeline projects. The results from that study would then be presented to cabinet, which will make the final decision on whether to approve a project.
It would appear that the Government of Canada is going to be putting hurdles in front of the energy sector, and the pipeline industry particularly, that don't exist for other industries.- Jeremy Harrison, Saskatchewan Trade Minister
"It would appear that the Government of Canada is going to be putting hurdles in front of the energy sector, and the pipeline industry particularly, that don't exist for other industries," Harrison said.
"We are worried about the precedent that sets, whether upstream greenhouse gas emissions are going to be considered for automobiles that are manufactured in Ontario and shipped across the country, or for aircrafts that are manufactured by Bombardier in Quebec."
Harrison said the current process takes 18 to 20 months and the change would add significantly to the time frame. Specifically for the Energy East project, Harrison said the timing of these changes is a large challenge for the industry.
"We know that we have had very significant impacts from the price of oil being where it's at. Very significant job impacts," he said.
The project would be $15 to $16 billion, and Harrison said it would employ thousands of people across the country.
"We are concerned as well that this is going to delay this very needed project, Energy East, by a number of months if not years, and that's going to be of significant concern," he said.
The new process will be separate from the existing NEB, and take place after the regulator has completed its review of proposed projects. It will also include greater public, and indigenous consultations on projects, something that is not currently part of the National Energy Board regulatory regime.