The Canada Energy Regulator has recommended that the Federal cabinet approve the NGTL 2021 System Expansion Project.
The $2.3 billion NOVA Gas Transmission project includes approximately 344 km of natural gas pipeline in eight loops and three compressor station unit additions. The project would start near Grande Prairie, Alberta, and end just north of Calgary on land that is mostly adjacent to existing right of ways and facilities.
According to the AER, about 75 per cent of the pipeline would be on crown land.
During the review of the project, the Commission heard from over 50 participants, including Indigenous peoples, industry, and both federal and provincial departments. The Commission found the benefits of the NGTL 2021 project were increased market access for Canadian natural gas, capacity building for local people and Indigenous communities and businesses and Canadian job creation.
The Commission did identify some downsides to the project. In particular, it noted adverse effects expected to be caused to the Little Smoky Caribou Range as well as further changes that could potentially affect the abilities of Indigenous people to use and access Crown lands.
In its Recommendation Report, the Commission said that: “The benefits and burdens of any project are never distributed evenly across the country. In light of these circumstances, reasonable people can and will disagree on what the best balance and outcome is for Canadians.”
The CER says that after considering the project’s benefits and burdens, the Commission concluded that on balance, the NGTL 2021 project is in the public interest. Furthermore, by implementing the company’s environmental protection procedures, commitments, mitigation measures and the Commission’s 34 recommended conditions, the project is not likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects.
During the review, the Commission heard concerns that were beyond its mandate to address. As a result, the Commission developed six recommendations in relation to those concerns for the consideration and action by the Federal cabinet and/or other government bodies.
These recommendations have been included in the Commission’s Recommendation Report to Federal cabinet.
Should the federal cabinet approve NGTL 2021, the Commission will monitor and enforce compliance with all conditions using audits, inspections and other compliance and enforcement tools.
Nova Gas says it expects to begin operating the project by April 2021.
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