I spent last week in Fort McMurray, Alta., participating in a hearing that could help determine the future of one of the largest oil sands mines ever proposed.
If built, the Frontier Oil Sands Mine would occupy 293 square kilometres of land in northeast Alberta. It would sit 110 km north of Fort McMurray and less than 30 km from Wood Buffalo National Park, Canada’s largest national park and an essential habitat for several species-at-risk.
It would also have a significant carbon footprint: the developer estimates production of up to 260,000 barrels per day of bitumen, beginning as early as 2026 and continuing for 41 years.
Part of Ecojustice’s mission is to combat climate change and fight for an accelerate the shift to clean energy sources.
To do this, we rely on supporters like you to help us make sure that the people responsible for assessing and approving major projects like the Frontier Oil Sands Mine have all the information they need.
That’s why I made the trip from Calgary to Fort McMurray last week, to help represent experts from the Oil Sands Environmental Coalition in a Joint Panel Review hearing on the Frontier Oil Sands mine.
The panel is responsible for hearing testimony both for and against the project. Under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, it must then issue a report, which federal cabinet will review when deciding whether or not to approve the project.
On Oct. 1, our clients gave expert testimony on the project and elaborated on earlier written submissions, which raised concerns about whether or not the mine makes economic sense, and how its significant emissions could contribute to climate change.
A new report released by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) found that reducing emissions over the next 12 years will be critical if we want to keep warming to 1.5 degrees. Beyond that point, the report warned, the effects of climate change will be widespread and catastrophic.
In the coming weeks, I will go before the Joint Review Panel on the Frontier Oil Sands Mine to give our final arguments on whether or not the project is in the public interest. As I prepare for that moment, I am motivated by the seriousness of the IPCC’s findings.
As an organization, Ecojustice is also committed to working to strengthen laws that would bolster the climate commitments Canada has made to its international allies, and developing exciting new cases that will hold polluters and decision-makers to account as we work together to create a more sustainable future.
We have 12 years to combat climate change. It’s time to get to work.
Photo of Ecojustice lawyers and members of the Oil Sands Environmental Coalition/Pembina Institute by Olivia French. Pictured, from left to right: Nikki Way, Simon Dyer, Nina Lothian, Kurt Stilwell, Jan Gorski, Barry Robinson and Jodi McNeill.