FORT MCMURRAY, Atla. — In the second week of public hearings into the proposed Shell Jackpine oilsands mine expansion, a coalition of environmental groups will argue the project should be rejected because it is not in the public interest.
The Oil Sands Environmental Coalition (OSEC) — comprised of the Pembina Institute, the Alberta Wilderness Association and the Fort McMurray Environmental Association, and represented by Ecojustice — will present evidence this week that clearly demonstrates that the Shell Jackpine mine expansion will harm fish and wildlife, damage wetlands and old growth forests, exceed legally binding air quality limits and cause acid rain.
The coalition’s expert panel — which includes University of Alberta scientist Dr. David Schindler and Dr. Glenn Miller, Professor of Natural Resources and Environmental Science at University of Nevada — will highlight the project’s impacts on air quality, species at risk, water quality and wetlands, which include:
Impacts on wildlife — Shell’s assessment shows a higher level of cumulative impacts to wildlife and biodiversity at the regional level than any oilsands assessment previously tabled. Impacts on wetlands and forests — Shell’s environmental assessment projects that 18 per cent (185,872 hectares) of the wetlands in the regional study area will be lost or altered as a result of the Jackpine mine expansion and other industrial activity. Worsening air quality — Shell’s environmental assessment shows nitrogen dioxide emissions (an air pollutant that has been linked to human respiratory problems) would exceed the legally-binding air quality limits outlined in Alberta’s new Lower Athabasca Regional Plan by two to three times in some areas. Contribution to climate change — The Shell Jackpine Mine expansion represents a significant increase in greenhouse gas pollution and represents a step away from meeting federal and provincial climate commitments.