by Felix von Geyer in Montreal
Canada will reduce environmental red tape, promote free trade and investment as it pursues the energy and mining boom on the back of Asian economic growth estimated at half a trillion dollars over the next ten years, Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver told the annual Conference of Montreal International Voice of the Americas Tuesday.
“One project, one review” will be the aim of Stephen Harper’s Conservative government as it looks to change and repeal environmental legislation or regulatory red tape as part of its “Responsible Resource Development” to allow for environmental assessments to be compiled and approved within a two-year time frame, said Oliver.
Oliver quoted the International Energy Agency’s 2011 World Energy Outlook as he asserted the importance Canada can play as an energy superpower, that energy demand would be 30 per cent higher over the next 25 years, with 90 per cent of that growth coming from “non-OECD” countries, he said.
Oliver did not mention the IEA’s findings in that report that the current global energy infrastructure was 80 per cent of the way to exceeding safe levels of climate change and that unless there was a change in the energy mix, by 2017 the energy infrastructure would be 100 per cent locked-in to surpassing 2 degrees Celsius increase in global average temperatures.
Instead, Oliver noted that Canada was now the third largest energy producer in the world with virtually all petroleum exports currently going to the US Gulf Coast; Canada is also the world’s primary potash producer for fertilizer and in the top five producers for a range of minerals from cadmium to cobalt, zinc, aluminium, nickel and so on.
Latin America formed half of Canadian mining assets he said with Chile accounting for $18 billion alone.
Reforming the environmental assessment process would allow for companies to have greater business certainty said Oliver and furthermore would allow Canada to transform from an energy superpower to a “responsible energy superpower” that would include increasing pipeline inspections by 50 per cent to 150 inspections per year. Last week a pipeline spill in Alberta’s Red Deer river displaced 500,000 litres of sour crude into the local environment.
Oliver also told journalists in a subsequent press conference that Canada expected the US to approve the controversial Keystone XL pipeline that crosses the United States’ strategic Ogallala aquifer after November’s presidential elections, stressing that the government expects it to be approved.