Posted on January 28, 2011 (updated: January 28, 2011)

Approval of Total oilsands mine deeply flawed

CALGARY, AB — Environmental groups are condemning the approval of the Total Joslyn North Mine project, which fails to meet legal requirements for cumulative impacts assessment and ignores growing concerns about lack of government oversight and monitoring.

The Oil Sands Environmental Coalition, represented by Ecojustice, opposed the project in provincial-federal joint review panel hearings last fall.

“This decision continues the practice of allowing oilsands development despite increasing adverse effects, based on hopes that these effects can be mitigated by research and undefined mitigation plans. The panel agreed with the environmental coalition that impacts on threatened wildlife were not fully assessed and key environmental management proposals are unproven,” said Melissa Gorrie, Ecojustice staff lawyer.

During joint review panel hearings, the environmental coalition highlighted the project’s significant environmental impacts and deficient environmental assessment and the government’s insufficient progress on oilsands regulation.

“Giving the green light to this project despite a flawed impact assessment and recent scathing reviews of oilsands environmental management from independent experts shows decision-makers aren’t taking criticism seriously,” noted Jennifer Grant, oilsands program director for the Pembina Institute.

“The panel again acknowledges Canada and Alberta’s lack of progress in addressing environmental concerns, but approved the project anyway.”

Myles Kitagawa of the Toxics Watch Society said the Oil Sands Environmental Coalition was very effective in conveying the deficiencies in the environmental impact assessment process during these hearings.

“Our concerns were echoed by the Royal Society of Canada’s recent findings that the Alberta and federal governments have not kept pace with proper environmental assessment and monitoring of oilsands developments,” Kitagawa said. “Approving another open pit mine is nothing short of irresponsible. We will be exploring legal options to have this flawed decision overturned.”

Members of the Oil Sands Environmental Coalition include the Pembina Institute, Toxics Watch Society of Alberta and Fort McMurray Environmental Association.


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