Coalition calls on panel to reject oil sands mine application

Athabasca River in Jasper National Park
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Calgary – The Oil Sands Environmental Coalition — composed of the Pembina Institute, the Toxics Watch Society of Alberta and the Fort McMurray Environmental Association, and represented by Ecojustice — recently filed a submission calling on the Joint Review Panel to reject Total E&P Canada’s Joslyn North Mine Project application due to significant environmental impacts, a deficient environmental assessment and insufficient progress on government regulations to address oil sands environmental impacts.

The Total Joslyn North Mine Project would result in 1.5 million tonnes of greenhouse gas pollution each year (equivalent to putting over 270,000 cars on the road), and it would destroy thousands of hectares of land.

“The environmental assessment submitted by Total is not reliable and therefore should be rejected by the panel,” said Terra Simieritsch, Policy Analyst for the oil sands program at the Pembina Institute. “The company’s assessment does not realistically portray the cumulative environmental consequences or the latest peer-reviewed science of pollution impacts on the Athabasca River, and so it should be thrown out.”

“Until the Governments of Alberta and Canada get their environmental house in order and effectively manage greenhouse gas emissions, the panel should protect the public interest and reject the project,” said Myles Kitagawa of the Toxics Watch Society of Alberta. “Previous regulatory panels have warned Alberta and Canada to improve its regulation of the oil sands, but since 2007 our governments have wasted time denying legitimate oil sands impacts and focusing on public relations rather than improving public policy.”

Three years after the panel that reviewed the Imperial Kearl project warned of the “absence of sustainable solutions” to oil sands development, little has changed: a land-use plan for the region is still not complete, a low-flow limit on water withdrawals to protect the Athabasca River is not in place, a wetland policy is stalled, and regulations that result in absolute greenhouse gas reductions are lacking. Meanwhile, troubling new information about pollution impacts in the Athabasca River have emerged.

“The pace and scale of oil sands development is damaging the social fabric of Fort McMurray and adequate community infrastructure is still not in place,” said Ann Dort-Maclean of the Fort McMurray Environmental Association.
The Total Joslyn Oil Sands Mine hearing begins in Fort McMurray on September 21.

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