Citizen Action Monitor

Harper gov. Panel approves Shell tar sands project that will exceed air quality standards

Decision reflects “comprehensive summary of the failures of Alberta and Canada’s environmental management”

No 806 Posted by fw, July 10, 2013

As climate-related disasters mount in Canada and beyond, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency rubber stamped “APPROVED” on yet another reckless tar sands project predestined for approbation by Harper’s environmental decrees.  The Panel report and a summary along with information on the environmental assessment are available on the Canadian Environmental Assessment Registry, reference number 59540, and on the Alberta Energy Regulator Web site.

Here is the Pembina Institute’s reaction to this decision.

Pembina reacts to decision on Shell Jackpine oilsands mine expansion, Simon Dyer, Pembina Institute, July 9, 2013

EDMONTON — Simon Dyer, policy director at the Pembina Institute, made the following comments today concerning the release of the joint review panel decision report on the proposed Shell Jackpine Mine Expansion:

“We are disappointed to see that the review panel is recommending approval of the Shell Jackpine mine expansion project, despite noting that the project lacks adequate mitigation and will contribute (along with other planned projects) to very significant adverse impacts to aboriginal rights and values, wildlife populations, wetlands, migratory birds and old-growth forests.

“The joint review panel heard from Shell’s own analysis that this project, when added to other planned oilsands projects, will exceed science-based environmental limits for impacts to air quality, wildlife habitat and the Athabasca River — yet the panel recommended approval of the project anyway.

“The Pembina Institute urged the joint review panel to take into account the lack of federal greenhouse gas regulations for the oilsands sector, the missing framework to protect the Athabasca River and the long-delayed Alberta wetland policy in its deliberations over this proposal. Approving projects like the Jackpine mine expansion that will enable further oilsands development in the absence of adequate management frameworks and regulations will continue to erode Canada’s environmental reputation and undermine the energy industry’s social license to operate.

“The panel’s decision report provides a comprehensive summary of the failures of Alberta and Canada’s environmental management, with 88 non-binding recommendations to improve government oversight. Yet by recommending that the project should be approved anyway, the panel missed the opportunity to send a strong message to Canadians and our energy customers that they support evidence-based decision making and will hold governments accountable for commitments to improve environmental protection in the oilsands.

“Until oilsands projects are required to meet the environmental standards that are meant to govern this sector, responsible oilsands development will be little more than a slogan.”

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