26 August 2011

Three MF Amigos split up #nlpoli

Liberal leader Kevin Aylward may have personally been waffling about Muskrat Falls a week or so ago, but his position has shifted:

An Aylward led government would immediately halt all spending on this project and establish a truly independent analysis to look at all options for meeting domestic energy demands.  The review currently before the Public Utilities Board is not a true independent review.  It is limited in scope and resources and is designed to provide government and Nalcor with a predetermined result.

That’s the last paragraph in a short, simple news release that Aylward issued Friday.

That leaves just Kathy Dunderdale and Lorraine Michael of the NDP struggling with their positions.

Michael is still talking about getting more information but her fundamental problem of privately supporting an unpopular deal remains.

In a news release Friday, Michael said:

NDP Leader Lorraine Michael (MHA, Signal Hill-Quidi Vidi) said the government’s release of the Report of the Joint Review Panel into the Muskrat Falls project may be a step towards the transparency she has been asking for, but it raises more questions about the project.

She said the provincial government should stop “pouring money into the project” and that “[w]e need to have a broadbased [sic]independent analysis.” It appears, though, that Michael is still limiting herself to a discussion of developing Muskrat Falls, as the Conservatives and Nova Scotia new Democrats are proposing as opposed to looking primarily at options to meet domestic energy needs.

Meanwhile, Kathy Dunderdale and the Conservatives are ploughing ahead. Dunderdale seemed to be confused about the panel’s rejection of the premises on which she is pursuing the megadebt project.  According to CBC,

"We're on the same path," Dunderdale told reporters in St. John's Thursday. "We're not misaligned. We absolutely agree."

“We” is apparently the provincial government and the panel.

skinnerNatural resources minister Shawn Skinner, left,  told a radio call-in audience on Friday that the joint federal/provincial review panel report was just more wonderful and informative information in a decades long and ongoing process of study, review and information gathering in which no decisions have been taken or will be taken any time soon.

Of course, that just makes it all the more embarrassing that the provincial government’s energy corporation couldn’t supply the review panel with simple, straightforward explanations of the reasons why it wants to pursue the project and what the implications will be.

After two years of review and months of public hearing’s and after giving Nalcor a second chance to correct deficiencies in its presentation, the panel concluded:

Need, Purpose and Rationale

… the Panel concluded that Nalcor had not demonstrated the justification of the Project as a whole in energy and economic terms, and that there are outstanding questions related to both Muskrat Falls and Gull Island regarding their ability to deliver the projected long term financial benefits to the Province, even if other sanctioning requirements were met. The Panel therefore recommended that the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador carry out separate formal financial reviews before sanctioning either Muskrat Falls or Gull Island to confirm whether the component being considered for sanction would in fact deliver the projected long-term financial benefits. [Page 3, Emphasis added]

- srbp -