Alberta Energy Minister Denies Withholding Pipeline Safety Report

The results have been in since December but there’s still no indication of when the Alberta government’s internal report on pipeline safety will be available to the public.

NDP energy critic Rachel Notley believes Energy Minister Ken Hughes is deliberately withholding the report out of fear that it will make safety an even greater issue in the pipeline debate. She told the Calgary Herald she believes it’s part of a broader communications strategy.

“At the end of the day what we really need is for the public to review the review,” she said. “We’re the ones to whom Ken Hughes owes an obligation—not the shareholders of multinational corporations.”

Hughes denies the allegation that keeping the results of the report from going public has anything to do the Obama administration’s upcoming decision regarding the future of the Keystone XL pipeline. He says the government needs more time to review the results and that industry is still reviewing its own practices as well. He added that pipeline safety is just one part of a larger process and that he will release the information “in the not too distant future.”

This news comes several days after the National Energy Board discovered that Enbridge is failing to comply with safety regulations at ninety percent of its facilities. When ordered to reveal whether the company’s pump stations had backup power to operate emergency shut downs, Enbridge revealed that only eight of its 125 stations across the country complied with regulations.

Enbridge claims the breach in safety measures was merely a misunderstanding, caused by changes in the way the NEB has interpreted rules, despite those rules having been in place for more than a decade.

“Enbridge would never knowingly operate outside of regulatory requirements. In fact, we do more than ask people to trust us, we say look at the evidence. We say look at our record, which is better than the industry average,” Enbridge spokesperson Graham White told CBC News.

The oil company’s explanation for the lapse doesn’t inspire much faith in the contents of the Keystone safety report, particularly in light of Hughes’ comment that the report is “highly technical,” requiring more time to fully understand the nature of it.

Another strike against Canadian oil development followed this morning when the Globe and Mail reported that the European Union has proposed labeling Canadian tar sands dirty energy, a move that has Canadian Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver threatening to take the European Commission to the World Trade Organization on the grounds that it was discriminating against Canadian exports and in contravention of international trade rules.

Image Credit: LOOZRBOY via flickr.

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