The proposed $16.2-billion Mackenzie Valley gas pipeline is a step closer to reality after the federal and Northwest Territories governments agreed Monday with most of the recommendations set out by a review panel last year.
They said they can eliminate or mitigate any potential adverse impacts if the 1,200-kilometre natural gas pipeline goes ahead.
"Should the [project] proceed, it will do so within a responsible environmental stewardship framework," federal Environment Minister John Baird said in a release.
The two governments released their final responses to a report by the Joint Review Panel, which spent five years studying the proposal by a consortium of companies led by Imperial Oil to build the pipeline from the Beaufort Sea through the Northwest Territories to existing networks in Alberta.
Released in December 2009, the panel's report came with 176 recommendations — most of which were directed at the federal and N.W.T. governments — to mitigate any adverse environmental, economic and social impacts the project may have.
On Monday, both governments said they accept the intent of "a vast majority" of the panel's recommendations aimed at them. Some recommendations were not accepted because they were deemed to be outside the panel's mandate.
The pipeline plan is still being reviewed by the National Energy Board, a federal body that regulates parts of Canada's energy sector.
The NEB's decision on whether to approve the project is expected before the end of this year. Imperial Oil has said it won't make a final decision on whether to proceed until 2013.
"An unprecedented level of public consultation was undertaken prior to finalizing the governments' response, which highlights our commitment to implementing the appropriate mitigation measures to protect the environment and address the social, cultural and economic impacts associated with the proposed project," Baird said