Federal environment minister Peter Kent announced today that Cenovus' proposed drilling of 1275 shallow natural gas wells in the Suffield, Alberta area had been turned down by the federal government.

The project, which would have taken place in the CFB Suffield National Wildlife Area, was found by Minister Kent to constitute too great a risk to 19 species at risk in the area.

This was the first decision announced by the federal environment minister since new streamlined rules for project approvals were announced earlier this year.  

The first application for the project under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act was made in 2005, and a joint Canada-Alberta panel started its review in 2006.  Public hearings were held in 2008 and the panel released its findings in 2009.  The Minister suggested that had the streamlined rules been in place all along, the decision would have been much faster.