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Muskrat Falls clears environmental assessment

March 15, 2012

Governments of Canada and Newfoundland and Labrador Respond to the
Joint Review Panel Report on the Lower Churchill Hydroelectric Generation Project

The Governments of Canada and Newfoundland and Labrador today released their responses to the report of the Joint Review Panel on the Lower Churchill Hydroelectric Generation Project (the Project) near Happy Valley-Goose Bay in Labrador.

“This decision is an important step toward realizing the full potential of one of North America’s most ambitious renewable energy projects,” said the Honourable Peter Penashue, Regional Minister for Newfoundland and Labrador and federal Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs. “It will deliver countless economic benefits to our already flourishing province, to Nova Scotia, and to the rest of Canada.”

“Today’s release from the environmental assessment process represents another important milestone and a major step forward as we move towards our decision on final project sanction of Muskrat Falls,” said the Honourable Jerome Kennedy, Minister of Natural Resources, Government of Newfoundland and Labrador. “Development of the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric project will result in countless benefits to our province, the most important being the provision of reliable, least-cost power to meet the growing demand for electricity. We look forward to continuing our work with the federal government to finalize details on a loan guarantee, which represents a tremendous vote of confidence in this renewable energy project.”

“Our government is fully committed to the Lower Churchill development,” said the Honourable Joe Oliver, federal Minister of Natural Resources. “This project will help create jobs, position Atlantic Canada for long-term prosperity and significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

The Joint Review Panel was mandated in 2009 to conduct an examination of the environmental and economic impacts of the project and to consider comments from the public. The panel concluded that the project would result in energy security as well as employment, business and environmental benefits. It also found that the project would have several significant adverse environmental effects.

The governments weighed all of the identified benefits, effects, risks and uncertainties and found that the project is justified on both economic and environmental grounds. In responding to the panel’s recommendations, the governments’ respective responses committed to ensuring the implementation of mitigation measures to reduce the adverse environmental impacts identified by the panel.

The governments will now proceed with the necessary steps for issuing the required federal authorizations from Fisheries and Oceans Canada and Transport Canada. The Government of Canada is also continuing to work on implementing the Memorandum of Agreement on a loan guarantee for the project comprising the Muskrat Falls Generating Station, the transmission line connecting Muskrat Falls to the existing Churchill Falls site, the Labrador-Island link and the Maritime link.

The Government of Canada’s response to the Joint Review Panel report can be found on the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency website: www.ceaa.gc.ca/default.asp?lang=En=B3186435-1. [Direct link: www.ceaa.gc.ca/050/documents/54772/54772E.pdf]

A copy of the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador’s responses to the Joint Review Panel report recommendations is available at: www.gov.nl.ca/env. [Direct link: www.env.gov.nl.ca/env/Response_to_Panel_Report.pdf]

Link to the original news release

Link to the original Environmental Assessment Joint Review Panel report

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Environmental Assessment Bulletin

The Honourable Terry French, Minister of Environment and Conservation, has announced the following event relative to Part 10 Environmental Assessment of the Environmental Protection Act.

UNDERTAKING RELEASED:

Lower Churchill River Hydroelectric Generation Project
Proponent: Nalcor Energy (Reg. 1305)

The project is released under the Environmental Protection Act subject to the following conditions:

(a) Nalcor Energy shall abide by all commitments made in the Environmental Impact Statement dated February 2009, the Environmental Impact Statement additional information requests by the panel (submitted and dated July 3, 2009, November 8, 2009, August 9, 2010, and January 10, 2011), and the submissions made by Nalcor during the Lower Churchill Generation Project Environmental Assessment Panel hearings and, subsequent to the hearings, to the panel, unless one or more of the commitments, or a part of a commitment is specifically waived by the Minister of Environment and Conservation;

(b) Obtain and abide by the requirements of all licences, permits, approvals, certificates, leases or other documents of authorization required by law;

(c) Without limiting the generality of paragraph (b), prepare and abide by the requirements of environmental protection plans for all phases of the project and those plans shall be submitted for the approval of the Minister of Environment and Conservation or the appropriate minister of the Crown prior to the commencement of an activity which is associated with or may affect certain components of the environment;

(d) Without limiting the generality of paragraph (b), prepare and abide by the requirements of emergency preparedness and response plans, contingency plans, occupational health and safety plans, wetland compensation plans, and riparian compensation plans for all phases of the project, and those plans shall be submitted for the approval of the Minister of Environment and Conservation or the appropriate minister of the Crown prior to the commencement of an activity which is the subject of or associated with those plans;

(e) Without limiting the generality of paragraph (b), prepare and abide by the requirements of environmental effects monitoring plans for all phases of the project, and those plans shall be submitted for the approval of the Minister of Environment and Conservation or the appropriate minister of the Crown prior to the commencement of an activity which is associated with or may affect certain components of the environment;

(f) Prepare and maintain a document which contains the licences, permits, approvals, certificates or other documents of authorization and which outlines and identifies the source or basis of all of the various terms and conditions under which the project will operate and all commitments made by Nalcor as identified in paragraph (a), including performance standards, financial assurances, targets, quotas and reporting procedures and submit it to the Minister of Environment and Conservation at a date prescribed by the minister;

(g) Prepare and submit to the Minister of Environment and Conservation an annual report describing the project’s performance in delivering socio-economic benefits to residents and businesses of the province commencing March 31, 2013;

(h) To ensure full and fair benefits for the people of the province for training, employment, and the procurement of goods and services, prior to the tendering of future contracts associated with one or more phases of the project, prepare and abide by benefits policies and procedures, developed in consultation with the government of the province and submitted to the appropriate government department for approval, including a supplier development strategy to be developed in consultation with representatives of aboriginal and Newfoundland and Labrador businesses and relevant provincial government departments, which supplier development strategy includes contract procurement procedures, supplier development initiatives and objectives for aboriginal and Newfoundland and Labrador businesses, and Nalcor shall regularly monitor, evaluate and report its compliance with the approved benefits policies and procedures to the appropriate provincial government departments at a date prescribed by the appropriate departments;

(i) prepare a Womens’ Employment Plan containing measurable goals and submit it to the Women’s Policy Office for approval at a date prescribed by the Minister Responsible for the Women’s Policy Office; and

(j) Prior to the commencement of construction, establish an Environmental Monitoring and Community Liaison Committee to provide feedback to the proponent and Government on the effects of the project.

A copy of the Provincial Government’s responses to the Joint Review Panel report recommendations is available at: www.gov.nl.ca/env

For further information on the environmental assessment process, please contact the Director of Environmental Assessment at 709-729-4211, toll-free 1-800-563-6181, or by mail to:

Director, Environmental Assessment Division
Department of Environment and Conservation
West Block, Confederation Building
P.O. Box 8700, St. John’s, NL A1B 4J6

Environmental assessment information is on the department website at: www.gov.nl.ca/env

Link to the original news release

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