11/30/2012 04:54 EST | Updated 11/30/2012 04:56 EST

Peter Kent Cenovus Veto: Critics Confused By Environment Minister's Latest Move


Had it been any other environment minister who said it, Peter Kent's announcement that he'd chosen to protect small animals over a big Cenovus Energy proposal would have had environmentalists cheering clapping and maybe even dancing.

Instead, Kent's veto against the gas project in southern Alberta's CFB Suffield was met with shock, awe and confusion.

Cenovus Energy initially proposed to drill up to 1,275 shallow gas wells in the national wildlife area located within the confines of the military base, doubling the number of wells that were in place before the area was declared a protected zone.

But Kent vetoed the gas project because it would have threatened the habitat of 19 species at risk.

It's the first decision Kent has announced since the government passed new, streamlined, environmental assessment rules amid much controversy last spring.

"It's clear the adverse environmental effects that would be caused by the proposed project are significant," Kent said outside the House of Commons.

"As a result, I've decided that the project will not be granted federal approval to proceed. The environmental impacts are simply too great.


Peter Kent's Cenovus Rejection

The decision goes on a much different direction than the ones he's made in the past, which have garnered much anger and outcry from environmentalists and opposition parties.

The most famous episode so far belongs to Liberal Party of Canada leadership hopeful Justin Trudeau when nearly one year ago he yelled across the lower chamber and called Kent a "piece of S***."

The verbal attack came after Kent chided NDP critic Megan Leslie for being ill-informed about the then-recent climate-change conference because she hadn't attended. In fact, the government blocked the opposition from attending the UN conference in Durban, South Africa, as part of the Canadian delegation.

Since then, environmentalists have engaged in a heated battle with the minister, over the federal government's handling of environmental issues.

Major changes to environmental oversight were included in the last budget bill in the spring, dramatically streamlining environmental assessment procedures, reforming the Fisheries Act and handing federal ministers more power over what kinds of projects need to be reviewed.

The scope of the bill, as well as its intent, prompted a huge outcry from the opposition and environmentalists. They accused Ottawa of abandoning federal responsibility for the environment in the name of resource development.

Kent has also gotten flack for allegedly muzzling Environment Canada scientists, lowering the bar for coal-burning plants and was accused this summer of withholding information relating to human activity-drive climate change.

Then there's always that whole Canada quitting Kyoto thing..