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The Vancouver Sun: Industry asks government for exemption on environmental assessment

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These temporary revisions, if remained in place, would have seen natural gas production plants of so-called “sweet gas” being exempt from automatic environmental assessment, which accounts for nearly 99 per cent of natural gas produced in B.C., according to the B.C. Oil and Gas Commission.

“Industry prefers shorter regulatory timeline and less regulatory burden to reduce costs,” said internal documents obtained by The Canadian Press through a Freedom of Information request.

In addition, documents obtained by the Vancouver Sun indicate the need for 25 – 45 new natural gas plants if the province wants to meet their goal for LNG production and distribution.

“Sweet gas”, which requires minimal purifying, has been differentiated by industry and government from “sour gas”, a form containing more than one per cent of toxic hydrogen sulphide that has to be removed before the gas can be used.

Representatives from the Minister of Environment said in a written statement to the Vancouver Sun that these exemptions were put in place because “significant adverse effects” aren’t common results from “sweet gas” and “sufficient regulatory processes” have been implemented by the Oil and Gas Commission.

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However, documents released by the Oil and Gas Commission of B.C. indicate concerns for possible cumulative effects of new wells and gas processing facilities on air quality, water quality and wildlife.

EnCana has been one of the loudest voices of concern, arguing the 18 months for an environmental assessment is “a barrier to industry.”

The latest environmental assessments of projects in the Horn River Basin identified “significant adverse effects due to greenhouse gas emissions,” officials note.

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The Ministry of Environment says a review of the assessment process began in June 2013 in response to a directive form Premier Christy Clark and will continue moving onward until a final decision is made.

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“There will be no changes to the regulation without an opportunity for public review and input,” the Sun concludes the ministry as saying.

You can read the entire article by The Vancouver Sun here.

With files from The Vancouver Sun

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