New plan to ‘approve’ pipelines designed to intensify pipeline wars
The Trudeau government has announced its plan to “improve” the National Energy Board. The language of the announcement is all “sunny ways,” promising to be all things to all stakeholders. The new approval process for major energy projects will be rigorous and science-based, but at the same time based on Indigenous traditional knowledge. It will be faster and easier for developers, even as it vastly widens the scope of reviews, including new requirements to include “gender-based analysis.” It will cut red tape for resource development, even as it asks the public to suggest ways to expand the list of projects requiring review.
In short, the announcement promises two incompatible things: a leaner, more efficient approvals process, and a denser more complex review system. It’s a safe prediction that only one of these promises will be fulfilled.
Our informal motto at the Fraser Institute is: “If it matters, measure it.” We’re all for the empirical, measurable, and meaningful analysis of proposed activities. To the extent the government is serious about transparent, science-based decisions, it is all to the good.
However, the federal government’s announcement injects a large number of subjective criteria into project analysis including such intangibles as the “social” impact of a proposed investment, its gender implications and climate impacts. The announcement repeatedly invokes “science,” as in science-based decision-making, but undermines that intention by calling for evaluation of unmeasurable things. The category of “effects on Indigenous people,” for example, is so ill-defined as to be meaningless in a scientific context, as are gender-based impacts of proposed activities.