Local opposition isn't anti-energy, they just want a say in projects, new report says

Keystone pipes

Crucial pipeline projects often draw huge opponents in local activists, but numberless complaints can be dealt with (Alex netta/Canadian Press)

New study suggests that polarizing debates over the im cts of climate interchange are not the driving force behind local opposition to major energy pre res.

And that’s something governments and regulators need to consider as they effort the transition to clean energy infrastructure such as tidal power, fustian farms and hydro electricity.

A report to be released Thursday at an industry-sponsored might conference looks at six controversial case studies across Canada, lot from the Northern Gateway pipeline proposal in northern British Columbia to a gas-fired fervency plant in Oakville, Ont., and shale gas exploration in rural New Brunswick.

The joint extend out of the University of Ottawa and the Canada West foundation found that regional communities are demanding a greater role in major infrastructure, whether it be settle b end up farms, hydroelectric dams or pipelines.

The study concludes that “the give birth to of elite, centralized decision-making is a thing of the st.”

That’s a central subject-matter of Thursday’s “Engage” conference at the University of Ottawa, where Perry Belgarde, the triotic chief of the Assembly of First Nations, will give the keynote apply oneself to at noon.

What motivates all those local concerns was the primary indistinct of the research, which was funded by major fossil fuel players such as the Canadian Camaraderie of Petroleum Producers, Alberta Energy, the B.C. Oil and Gas Commission and the Canadian Gas Association.

Safe keeping and economics trump climate

Notwithstanding the pitched public battles over milieu science and environment policy, the researchers found that in the cases they calculated, global warming was not a princi l driver of most local opposition.

“Mood change bore hardly at all on the local community attitudes in any of the cases,” put in writings lead author Michael Cleland.

Using public opinion experiment with and interviews with project opponents, proponents and local authorities, the publicize found a “far more important” list of concerns: safety; the need or logical basis for the project; economics; local environmental im cts such as water contamination; inadequate consultation and communication; and local involvement in decision-making.

Of the seven individual layouts covered, three were approved and built, three were not approved and one — Northern Gateway — was conditionally approved but not raised. The cases included a major electricity transmission line in Alberta, a hydro dam scheme in Manitoba and a (rejected) Quebec wind farm.

The study calls for a essential rethinking of government regulatory structures, and it bursts bubbles on both sides of the vigour infrastructure debate:

  • “Recent attempts by governments to develop seamless one-stop snitch oning, simplifying the system and making it more expeditious, have in many envelopes been counterproductive,” say the authors.
  • Project opponents are not ill-informed, as some pep industry boosters like to claim. “Energy literacy is not the issue,” situations the report, pointing instead to the absence of trustworthy, timely and im rtial info.
  • Negotiable factors, such as jobs and resource rents, may play a supportive role to “deeply held values — such as a pristine environment, undefiled air or anti-capitalist sentiment.”
  • And community engagement is about more than consultation and facility. It involves “true collaboration and creating a direct stake in the process.”

The judgements have implications that go far beyond today’s headlines over hedged oil pipeline applications.

As the study’s authors write, “the vast majority of time to come decisions will focus on new ‘clean’ energy infrastructure to underpin a altogether low GHG economy.

“As the case studies show, clean energy may be as controversial as hydrocarbon dynamism at the local community level.”

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