Major energy players may stop trying to build major projects in Canada altogether if the government’s new environmental regulations are passed, according to an independent Canadian senator.
“Under this proposed legislation, we’re not going to need to worry about the time for projects and the opposition of projects,” independent Alberta Senator Doug Black said about the government’s proposed Bill C-69 in an interview with BNN Bloomberg on Thursday, “because we’re hearing from companies that would be natural proponents to develop the Canadian resource industry, simply saying: ‘We’re not even going to apply.’”
Black joined a chorus of opposition to the proposed legislation, which is currently undergoing a second reading in the Senate. Hal Kvisle, a former CEO of TransCanada Corp., told BNN Bloomberg last month that C-69 is “an absolutely devastating piece of legislation.”
Current energy executives have echoed Kvisle’s concerns in recent days.
Imperial Oil Ltd. CEO Rich Kruger told BNN Bloomberg on Aug. 28 that a “cloud of uncertainty” hovers over whether or not global investors would choose to sink their money into Canadian energy. Suncor Energy Inc. CEO Steve Williams told the attendees of a New York conference Wednesday that he would wait for “physical progress on the ground” to get pipelines approved before moving ahead with any additional Canadian production expansions.
However, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau defended the bill at an appearance in Edmonton Wednesday, saying that companies “know if they go through this process they are much less likely to be slapped down with a court case like [Trans Mountain].”
Black says the government is getting it wrong, even if their intentions are noble.
“We have seen as recently as now with the Trans Mountain problems [that] we cannot seem to get projects approved, particularly in the energy industry in this country,” Black said. “So, let’s step back and say: ‘What do we need to do to build a regulatory regime for the next century in Canada?’ And that’s what they’ve tried to do in [Bill C-]69, but in my view they’ve gotten it completely wrong.”
Black sent a letter to Trudeau on Tuesday outlining his recommended action plan to resolve the delays facing the Trans Mountain expansion project, including the adoption of the Trans Mountain Pipeline Project Act, a National Energy Board review of increased tanker traffic off the B.C. coast and consultation with the First Nations groups opposed to the project within four months.
Black expressed concern over increased access for opponents to derail regulatory hearings and the potential under Bill C-69 for the environment minister to veto projects across several resource sectors, adding that Canada needs to address its regulatory hurdles for the sake of the economy.
“The Canadian economy is suffering because we can not get our energy products off of the North American continent,” he said.
“Canada has a sign in the window which says, ‘Closed for business.’ We can’t approve projects, even when the taxpayers own the pipeline.”