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What is Northern Pulp Mill's plan ?

Blog posts reflect the views of their authors.
What is Northern Pulp Mill's plan ?


This blog should be read with the earlier HMC article: Heat Turns Up on Northern Pulp


Paper Excellence is the owner of Pictou's old kraft pulp mill, and their plan is pretty obvious: when it comes to investments in emission controls, like all the mill's previous owners, they want to invest as little as possible, for as long as they can get away with it.

And they will do whatever it takes to keep that game going.

But what is their plan right now? Which means, HOW do they effectively kneecap the new Industrial Approval (IA) that the government is imposing on them, which would not allow them to invest as little as they choose in their polluting old mill.

No one except Paper Excellence executives and mill manager Bruce Chapman really know the answer to that question.

But a lot has emerged since Minister Delorey tabled the IA on January 30. So we can look at the patterns.

Bruce Chapman in his many media railings about how impossible and unfair the IA is on Northern Pulp, steadfastly refuses to answer reporters questions about what in particular is so onerous.

I tried a number of tacks and repetitions of questions with Chapman. When he reaches the point where he wants to stop a particular line of questioning he says “it will all be in the appeal of the IA. We want to work within the formal process.”

Fair enough. But the company is not by any means leaving it to the formal process. So why have they gone on the offensive before the appeal? Fighting for public opinion is the obvious answer, but that does not seem to account for the lengths they are going in the campaign before an appeal is possible.

When I received documents through Freedom of Information requests for reports and discussions in government, included were data on mill emissions and where this mill ranks among other North American kraft pulp mills. It became clear that there is just no case for Northern Pulp to argue that the government is pushing the mill to meet “groundbreaking” standards.

Not meaning that they will not argue the point. But they are going to have to depend on very thin ice arguments- such as that it is only “fair” to compare them to equally old pulp mills (that also “happen” to have a history of no investment in emission controls).

And the company's appeal of the IA will be a transparent process. Northern Pulp has to document the substance of their appeal, and everyone will be able to see it.

So Northern Pulp has chosen the 'no transparency' route of throwing out public flak while working the backrooms wherever they can.

Their chances of getting the reduction requirements reduced through the formal open process of the IA appeal are very low.

So go outside the process. Do everything you can to get the IA dropped or otherwise kneecapped.

In some ways there is nothing new in this. This has always been the modus operandi of Northern Pulp, and the mills previous owners. In a coming blog update I will recount the history of Northern Pulp with the previous NDP government, which is also the (interesting) history of the previous Industrial Approval that the new one replaces.

But Northern Pulp has always been able to bypass or render useless all emission controls with manoeuvres out of public view. They also at occasional points carry that to public statements- where they are never shy about using the hammer of mill closure- but the real sustained action has always been behind the scenes.

This time seems to be different. It is not clear why exactly Northern Pulp fears that this time, with this government, they will not get away with “quiet means” of effectively ignoring reduction requirements.

However the mill owners came to that conclusion, they have apparently decided that they have to undermine government demands publicly, and with a lot of aggresive noise.


See also: The NDP Government and the 2011 Northern Pulp Industrial Approval

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