Victoria – Today environmental groups ForestEthics, Dogwood Initiative and Sierra Club Canada responded to Minister Raitt’s proposal to speed up the approval of pipelines by calling on her to strengthen, not gut, the process.

“At a time when the U.S. is moving to seriously tackle global warming, our government wants to expedite the expansion of the tar sands by ducking their environmental responsibility,” said Gillian McEachern of ForestEthics.

During a speech to the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association on Wednesday, Minister Raitt, who’s responsible for overseeing the approval of new pipelines, announced that she intends to roll back red tape to speed up the process.

The current pipeline proposals – such as the Mackenzie Valley Pipeline and Enbridge’s Northern Gateway Pipeline – would both facilitate the expansion of the tar sands, Canada’s fastest growing source of global warming pollution. The Gateway pipeline, for example, would allow expansion equivalent to adding 1.6 million new cars on the road annually.

“Raitt’s streamlined process would still be fat in all the wrong places,” says Eric Swanson of Dogwood Initiative. “A truly streamlined process would aim to reduce sources of conflict, and that means dealing with the realities of global warming and an increasing legal recognition of Aboriginal rights and title.”

The current process does not take into account the global warming impact of expanding Canada’s fossil fuel extraction that the pipelines are intended to accommodate. First Nations in the NWT, BC and Saskatchewan have all voiced objection to the process because it fails to address their rights and title, and the failure to deal with these issues has caused delays in some processes.