Energy industry letter suggested environmental law changes, Greenpeace says oil and gas companies got what they wanted from Ottawa by Max Paris, January 9, 2013, CBC News
Within 10 months of the request, the industry had almost everything it wanted. The letter, dated Dec. 12, 2011, was addressed to Environment Minister Peter Kent and Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver. It came from a group called the Energy Framework Initiative (EFI), which is made up of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association, the Canadian Petroleum Products Institute (now the Canadian Fuels Association) and the Canadian Gas Association. “The purpose of our letter is to express our shared views on the near-term opportunities before the government to address regulatory reform for major energy industries in Canada,” wrote the EFI.
The letter specifically mentions six laws that relate to the oil and gas industry’s ability to do its work:
• National Energy Board Act.
• Canadian Environmental Assessment Act.
• Fisheries Act.
• Navigable Waters Protection Act.
• Species at Risk Act.
• Migratory Birds Convention Act.
On Jan. 9, 2012 (less than one month after the letter was written), Oliver wrote an open letter accusing environmentalists and other “radical groups” of undermining the Canadian economy. On April 26, 2012, the government introduced the first of its omnibus budget implementation acts which completely re-wrote the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act and made major changes to the Fisheries Act and the National Energy Board Act. On Oct. 18, 2012, the government tabled its second omnibus budget implementation act, which replaced the Navigable Waters Protection Act (one of the oldest pieces of Canadian legislation) with the Navigation Protection Act.
In its letter, EFI suggested the approach of these laws was “outdated.” “At the heart of most existing legislation is a philosophy of prohibiting harm: ‘environmental’ legislation is almost entirely focused on preventing bad things from happening rather than enabling responsible outcomes. This results in a position of adversarial prohibition, rather than enabling collaborative conservation to achieve agreed common goals,” explained the EFI. … “The industry’s fingerprints are all over this budget. They got the changes that they wanted and they even put out a press release later thanking the government for making those changes,” said Keith Stewart of Greenpeace, the organization that gave the letter to the CBC. [Emphasis added]