Approving the world’s largest oil sands mine with conditions would be a betrayal to the millions who voted from climate action, say environmental groups

Environmental groups are calling on the government to fully reject the Teck Frontier oilsands mine, and are pushing back on proposals for the federal government to approve the mine with conditions. Groups say an approval would be a colossal betrayal of the millions of people across the country who voted for stronger climate action in the last election and would severely impair Canada’s ability to meet its climate commitments.

“The only way to ensure this mine does not compromise Canada’s zero-GHG by 2050 climate commitment is to make sure this project is fully rejected,” said Julia Levin, Climate and Energy Program Manager at Environmental Defence. “Approving the mine by applying conditions is disingenuous. It’s unfair to workers, to Alberta, and to the millions of people from coast to coast to coast who support climate action.”

Recent media stories have floated several conditions such as enforcing the Alberta emissions cap or securing an agreement from Alberta to be net zero by 2050, consistent with Canada’s mid-century target. As we have seen with decades of promises regarding oil sands tailings ponds clean up, these climate commitments can be easily broken.

“Canada and Alberta both have a long history of changing or cancelling climate policies as soon as they constrain the expansion of oil and gas, ” said Tzeporah Berman, International Program Director for the environmental group Stand.earth.  “There comes a time when federal leadership is needed to come down on the side of a climate-safe future. That time is now.”

The mine offers only false hope to workers concerned about their future. Teck’s CEO said last week that oil prices are too low for the mine to be economically viable. The company has said it needs oil to be US$95 per barrel to go forward. A few days ago, the United States Energy Information Administration (EIA) significantly dropped its future oil price forecasts. For the next decade, EIA foresees prices below $75 per barrel.

“Canada needs to find a way to find real jobs for workers today and not support hypothetical jobs that might appear sometime in the future,” said Claire Gallagher, Leadnow Senior Campaigner. “The Teck mine decision is an opportunity for the federal government to show that it is willing to make the right choices for workers by providing support to new industries, an economic divestment fund that reduces Alberta dependence on oil and gas, training for displaced workers, and following through on their commitment for a Just Transition Act.”

“The only vision for a bright future politicians at any level have seriously offered Albertans is one heavily dependent on the oilsands,” said Bronwen Tucker, an organizer with Climate Justice Edmonton, “But we know the world is moving on whether Alberta is ready or not – we need the federal government to stop making the problem worse by allowing projects like Teck Frontier, and start working to ensure the transition is fair.”

In addition to the climate risks, the $20.6 billion mega mine, covering 29,000 hectares, would infringe on the rights of impacted First Nations and Métis communities, disrupt thousands of hectares of forest, threaten the last remaining free-roaming wood buffalo and the critically endangered whooping crane and be in operation for four decades.

Groups calling on the Federal government to reject the Teck Frontier Mine include, Greenpeace Canada, Leadnow, Environmental Defence, Stand.earth, Équiterre, Oil Change International, 350 Canada, Climate Justice Edmonton.

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For more information, please contact:

Tzeporah Berman, International Program Director for the environmental group Stand.earth

Claire Gallagher, Leadnow Senior Campaigner

Barbara Hayes, Communications Manager, Environmental Defence

Bronwen Tucker, Community Organizer, Climate Justice Edmonton