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Northern Pulp and meddling civil servants

Forest industry association calls Industrial Approval red tape

by Robert Devet

Nova Scotia's largest forestry association is asking its members to stand up for Northern Pulp's right to pollute. Photo Miles Howe
Nova Scotia's largest forestry association is asking its members to stand up for Northern Pulp's right to pollute. Photo Miles Howe

(KJIPUKTUK) HALIFAX - It's hard enough to run a business in Nova Scotia as it is.

But then there is red tape to deal with.

The Forest Products Association of Nova Scotia (FPANS) for one has had it up to here with red tape and meddling civil servants.

That's why the organization is initiating a letter writing campaign in support of Pictou's Northern Pulp.

"Red Tape keeps getting in the way of doing business in Nova Scotia. And we need your help to tell the Nova Scotia Government and Premier McNeil to stop creating more Red Tape," FPANS writes to its members in an email obtained by the Halifax Media Co-op

The red tape in question are the conditions set in the most recent Industrial Approval for the Northern Pulp mill in Pictou.

That Industrial Approval, issued by the provincial department of Environment in January of this year, requires Northern Pulp to substantially reduce emissions, water usage and waste water by 2020.

The company has said that it will appeal the Industrial Approval and has been vocal in its oposition.

Now FPANS is asking its members to stand up for the company's right to pollute.

A fact sheet made attached to the email argues that conditions imposed by the Industrial Approval are stricter than exist in other North American jurisdictions.

Reductions of waste water production are unreasonable and could even make the smell get worse, FPANS warns.

Air emission constraints are also an issue, FPANS reports.

"Setting a regulated limit so close to the expected operating level is unusual and sets Northern Pulp up for failure," the fact sheet states.

And all these new controls are going to cost a lot of money, putting sawmills, contractors and the hundreds of businesses they support across this province in jeopardy too, a form letter addressed to the Premier suggests.

"[T]he unreasonable Industrial Approval for Northern Pulp will not allow that company to have a long term future," the form letter continues.

These arguments are not new.

And that the company's concerns about increased testing are a reaction to years of spewing emissions above legal limits remains unmentioned.

Independent researcher Ken Summers counters many of Northern Pulp's complaints in an article he wrote for the Halifax Media Co-op earlier this month.

Summer believes that the Industrial Approval's new conditions are well within general North American standards, and that costs should not come as a surprise to Northern Pulp.

Summers mentions what he calls the "strident threats of closure that we have been treated to at every opportunity since the January 30 official release of the new Industrial Approval for the Northern Pulp mill."

It looks like the mill is now getting some help from FPANS.

"If we don’t stand up to this kind of unreasonable Red Tape together – who knows what business or industry could be shut down next," the email concludes.

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