Resource development: Stuck at a yellow light – by Jeffrey Simpson (Globe and Mail – February 24, 2016)

Canada has become a country of yellow lights, with project after project delayed by governments, courts, aboriginal groups and non-governmental organizations.

No longer does the country have the capacity to make decisions about major projects that cause the slightest controversy. No matter what scientific review or regulatory process is put in place to examine projects, its credibility is attacked from the get-go by those who oppose the projects, full stop.

We have now entered a period where proponents of anything might ask: Why bother spending heaps of time and money on the review or regulatory process when governments aren’t going to pay any attention but rather make decisions based on politics?

The Trudeau government typified this approach when it added questions for the National Energy Board to examine in reviewing the extension of Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline in British Columbia and the proposed Energy East pipeline from Alberta to New Brunswick.

Within moments of announcing the new criteria, government ministers said that, at the end of the day, they would be making a “political” decision. Who knows what will go into that “political” decision, but chances are it won’t be the scientific evidence or expertise of the regulatory body.

One of those ministers, Environment Minister Catherine McKenna, recently illustrated the pause-button reflex on the idea of burying of low- and intermediate-level nuclear waste about 680 metres underground near Ontario Power Generation’s Bruce nuclear site on Lake Huron.

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