A government panel has denied EnCana’s application to drill three shallow gas wells inside CFB Suffield’s National Wildlife Area (NWA) near Medicine Hat, but the company may still be allowed to drill more wells in the area by meeting certain requirements.
EnCana’s three-well application — part of the company’s larger plan to drill 1,275 wells in the protected area — lacked “complete and up-to-date” environmental information, according to the joint federal-provincial panel that reviewed the proposal. The panel also found that the larger project, as proposed, would “likely result in significant adverse effects on certain species at risk, and consequently interfere with the conservation of wildlife.” (The NWA is home to a host of at-risk plant and animal species.)
The panel says that once EnCana meets certain requirements, including properly identifying critical habitat for the Ord’s kangaroo rat and the Sprague’s pipit, it “may be possible” to proceed with the project. However, the base commander would still have to review each individual well application to make sure it won’t interfere with wildlife conservation.
The panel is sending its report to federal Environment Minister Jim Prentice, as the government is responsible for making the final decision on the application.