Citizen Action Monitor

Alberta Court quashes gov. decision to exclude Pembina from oilsands regulatory process

Judge calls Alberta gov. actions “tainted” and decision “biased”

No 868 Posted by fw, October 03, 2013

Following up on a September 5, 2013 post, Pembina Institute takes Alberta Gov. to court for blocking its participation at oilsands hearings, Pembina’s policy director reacted to the news of the Judge’s reversal:

“We are pleased to see that this error has been corrected…..Albertans have a right to a fair oilsands regulatory process including the right to be heard and raise concerns about oilsands development.”Simon Dyer

Before celebrating this decision as a win for the good guys, the question now becomes: Will Pembina’s appearance at the regulatory hearings have any influence on the outcome of a regulatory process that may be little more than a façade of participatory democracy? A story posted yesterday, Harper, fossil fuel industry press to get full suite of products to markets by pipeline, rail, road, tankers, asked “Who will stop Harper’s “up yours” all-out blitz to rob Canadians of an ecologically sane feature?” The Harper and Alberta governments appear to have the legislative and funding power to ram their foolhardy fossil fuel blitz through to implementation.

Here’s a reposting of this good news story. To read the original version, click on the linked title.

Court rules Alberta improperly excluded Pembina Institute from oilsands regulatory process (updated with ruling) Pembina Institute, October 2, 2013

EDMONTON — Alberta’s Court of Queen’s Bench has quashed a government decision not to allow the Pembina Institute and the Fort McMurray Environmental Association to participate in the regulatory review of a proposed oilsands project.

In a strongly worded ruling, Justice Marceau called the Alberta Government’s actions “tainted” and concluded, “It is difficult to envision a more direct apprehension of bias” in the government’s decision to improperly exclude the Pembina Institute’s evidence and participation.

“We are pleased to see that this error has been corrected,” says Simon Dyer, policy director for the Pembina Institute. “Albertans have a right to a fair oilsands regulatory process including the right to be heard and raise concerns about oilsands development.”

The Pembina Institute filed a Statement of Concern with Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development in 2012 to gain standing to express concerns about the second phase of Southern Pacific Resource Corp’s proposed in situ oilsands project on the MacKay River near Fort McMurray.

The project would require up to 1.7 million litres of fresh groundwater every day and contribute to declining regional air quality. Further, the proposed project would be located in the habitat of a threatened caribou herd where disturbance already exceeds the threshold identified in the Federal Recovery Strategy for woodland caribou.

Documents obtained through Freedom of Information requests suggest that the Institute’s “recent oilsands publications,” along with the government’s perception that the energy policy think tank was “less inclined to work cooperatively,” were reasons for rejecting the Pembina Institute’s Statement of Concern related to this project and others.

“It’s deeply troubling that the Government of Alberta would attempt to block participation in the regulatory process on grounds that Pembina has raised concerns of its oilsands management policies,” says Dyer. “At a time when evidence is mounting that cumulative environmental impacts from oilsands are exceeding regional thresholds, it’s essential that directly affected stakeholders with credible information get a fair hearing.”

In 2012, there were over 36,000 energy applications in Alberta, including 410 in situ oilsands applications. The regulator held only seven hearings on energy related projects and a single hearing for an in situ oilsands project.


  • Judgment: official judgment of the Court of Queen’s Bench
  • Briefing note: Government of Alberta’s reasons for rejection the Statement of Concern from the Oil Sands Environmental Coalition
  • Media release: “Pembina Institute takes province to court over right to speak at oilsands hearings”
  • Judicial review brief: the Pembina Institute’s application to appeal the Government of Alberta’s rejection of OSEC’s Statement of Concern
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This entry was posted on October 3, 2013 by in evidence based counterpower, legal counterpower, NGO counterpower and tagged , , .
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