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MacKenzie Pipeline funding brings criticism

Environmental groups say federal dollars should not be going to the Mackenzie Gas Project.

Environment Minister Jim Prentice announced Monday, the government has offered an undisclosed amount for infrastructure and pre-construction costs for the consortium hoping to build the project, as well as a sharing of risks and returns.

The pipeline would carry natural gas from the coast of the Beaufort Sea, at the northwestern tip of the Northwest Territories, more than 12 hundred kilometers south, to Northwestern Alberta, where it would connect with TransCanada’s existing network.

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Prentice called the undertaking, now estimated to cost 16.2 billion dollars, "a very important project to our country", because it offers a secure source of energy for Canada, and would spur economic development in northern communities, and make the arctic region more accessible.

But Stephen Hazell, executive director of Sierra Club Canada, says the move is "staggering in its irresponsibility." Hazell says there is concern large quantities of the fuel would be used in oilsands extraction – "the world’s dirtiest oil in terms of greenhouse gas emissions."

Lindsay Telfer, director of the Sierra Club’s Prairie division agrees, saying she’d rather see government money spent on renewable energy sources.

The project still needs to go through regulatory approval, with construction slated to finish in 2010.

Source – the Canadian Press

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