Month: December 2018

Pipelines, the Environment and the Economy: Canada’s New Impact Assessment Law, C-69

Note: The original post was slightly edited on January 26 and 28, 2019, to add a few additional points that occurred to me upon re-reading it.

Introduction:

Is it possible under the current law for a private sector oil pipeline to be approved in Canada within a reasonable time and with finality? The short answer is “No!”. And the new assessment law, C-69 (now before the Senate) will make private sector pipeline approvals even less likely. The process of assessment cannot be infinitely long and complicated, with no reasonable likelihood of finality in the decision to approve or deny construction. Now, only the government can accept the cost and risk of attempting to build a pipeline to an ocean port. If that had been the government’s intention in enacting C-69, it would have succeeded; as that is not what was intended, the law must be amended.

Today, having purchased the TMX pipeline, the federal government is seeking approval of its pipeline, from itself.  How credible will either decision be?  If the Cabinet says “yes, we approve our own project” that self-approval looks like a decision biased by self-interest.  If the Cabinet says “No, we don’t approve our own project” that just looks silly.
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