OTTAWA—The federal government has greenlit a natural gas expansion project on the B.C.-Alberta border, under the new the interim regulations on energy project decisions—a process which now involves more meaningful public consultation.
Jim Carr, federal minister of Natural Resources, announced on Mar. 10 the government’s decision to approve Nova Gas Transmission Ltd.’s (NGTL) Towerbirch Expansion Project, subject to a set of binding conditions.
The $439 million project will involve the construction of two new pipeline sections, totalling approximately 87 kilometres, along with associated facilities in northwest Alberta and northeast B.C.
The Towerbirch Expansion Project will create up to 750 jobs during construction, and address the need for increased natural gas transmission capacity along the existing NGTL system.
Approximately 82 percent of the project will parallel existing rights-of-way or existing disturbances, and 89 percent will be located on private land.
In January 2016, the government announced a set of interim principles to guide decisions on major projects already being reviewed, while longer-term reforms to environmental assessment processes are underway. The Towerbirch project was assessed using the interim principles.
In making its decision, the government says it took into consideration the National Energy Board’s recommendation report on the project, Environment and Climate Change Canada’s assessment of upstream greenhouse gas emissions, public views gathered through an online questionnaire and consultations with Indigenous peoples.
“Approving the Towerbirch Expansion Project, subject to binding conditions, reflects the government’s principled approach to developing and transporting Canada’s natural resources in a way that creates jobs and protects the environment,” said Minister Carr.