OTTAWA, Nov. 30, 2012 /CNW/ - Canada's Environment Minister Peter Kent
announced today that the Shallow Gas Infill Development Project
proposed by Cenovus Energy at Canadian Forces Base Suffield National
Wildlife Area in Alberta will not be granted federal approval to
proceed. The Government has decided that the significant adverse
environmental effects that would be caused by the project are not
justified in the circumstances. Today, the Government is issuing the
first decision statement under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act 2012.
"We make these environmental assessment decisions based on the best
available scientific evidence," said Minister Kent. "This decision is a
clear indication of our Government's commitment to strengthening
environmental protection as a pillar of our Responsible Resource
The project has undergone a thorough environmental review based on the
best available scientific evidence by an independent Joint Review Panel
under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. In making its decision, the Government of Canada took into
consideration the recommendations of the Joint Review Panel, as well as
subsequent identification of critical habitat in the area for species
at risk, and agreed with the Panel's conclusions regarding the
significance of the project's environmental impacts.
"This decision also indicates that Responsible Resource Development is
not an automatic green light for all development projects, only those
projects that meet our environmental rigor will be approved," added
The Minister wishes to thank the Joint Review Panel Chair, Bob Connelly,
and Panel Members Bill Ross and Gerry DeSorcy for their hard work and
dedication in conducting a thorough and open environmental review.
The Minister's environmental assessment decision statement, a
backgrounder and the Joint Review Panel Report are available on the
Canadian Environmental Assessment Registry at www.ceaa-acee.gc.ca , reference number 15620.
PROPOSED SHALLOW GAS INFILL DEVELOPMENT PROJECT AT CFB SUFFIELD
Cenovus Energy Inc. (formerly EnCana Corporation) proposed to drill up
to 1,275 new shallow gas wells within the boundary of the Canadian
Forces Base (CFB) Suffield National Wildlife Area over a three-year
period, essentially doubling the existing 1,154 gas wells installed
before the area was declared a National Wildlife Area (NWA). The
proposal would have included pipelines, access trails and other
infrastructure. The NWA is located 50 km northwest of Medicine Hat in
The CFB Suffield NWA was created in recognition of its ecological
integrity and the diversity and abundance of native plant and animal
species. It is one of the few large blocks of dry mixed-grass prairie
remaining in Canada and accounts for about 30 per cent of all the
protected grasslands in Alberta. The NWA encompasses 458 km2 of prairie grassland and hosts over 1,100 catalogued species including
19 terrestrial species listed under the Species at Risk Act.
The Review Process
The Joint Review Panel was appointed on November 16, 2006, by the
Minister of the Environment and the Chair of the former Alberta Energy
and Utilities Board (predecessor to the Energy Resources Conservation
Board), to conduct an assessment of the project. In addition to written
submissions, a public hearing provided an opportunity for the Panel to
receive and question information on the views of participants.
Public hearings were held from October 6 to 31, 2008 in Calgary and
Medicine Hat. Participants who provided evidence at the hearing, in
addition to the proponent, included the Government of Canada, the
Environmental Coalition, the Suffield Environmental Advisory Committee,
the Suffield Industry Range Control, members of the public,
environmental groups, energy companies, and Panel experts. The Panel
released its report on January 27, 2009.
Under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act 2012, the Minister set a timeline for the Government decision for this
project to be made by December 3, 2012.
Additional details and environmental assessment documents are available
in the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency registry at www.ceaa.gc.ca , reference number 15620.
SOURCE: Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency