A few random thoughts, nothing too heavy today.
I would like to thank Jake Brooks at APPrO who helped organize the recent Canadian Power Producers Conference in Toronto. I was part of a panel examining the issues surrounding the environmental approval of major renewable energy projects.
There was very good attendance and it was interesting to hear Doris Dumais, Director of Approvals for the Ontario Ministry of Environment, discuss the government’s efforts to streamline the approval process. It’s always a challenge to satisfy all involved. Because it took us over six years to go through the Environmental Assessment process to gain approval for the Adams Mine landfill, I remain a sceptic.
I spoke on the “Social Issues” surrounding approval of any project. My presentation was called, “Winning the War”. I made it very clear that the approval process, and the social acceptance issues, were completely different in today’s world. I talked about how the convergence of outside environmental influences is fuelled by the media and how that impacts on the political process.
I stated that it is something we need to talk about going forward, as too much emphasis is put on opposition to projects. Opposition is often unfounded and can be political in nature. It can come from factions outside of the immediate area where the project is located and, in many cases, is funded by outside international interests.
My short presentation seemed well received and I had a number of people talk to me later. The message is something I intend to speak on more aggressively in 2012. Companies, executives, and anyone starting the approval process on any project today faces the same problems and, in my view, needs to understand what is really going to happen and have a game plan in place.
The best example today of the convergence of politics, the media and environmentalists is the Keystone XL pipeline. Politics won!! President Obama ducked and, with an election in the USA coming in 2012, he deferred approval. But TransCanada and the State of Nebraska quickly came to an agreement to study a re-routeing of the pipeline. It’s not over yet and I still believe, while it is costing TransCanada millions more than projected, the project will get approved.
Next week is December; I will have to work on my 2011 wrap up thoughts.
TRASHED! How Political Garbage Made the United States Canada’s Largest Dump