Kearl Panel Fails to Answer Federal Court's Questions

May 8, 2008

The report of the re-convened Joint Review Panel assessing Imperial Oil's Kearl Oilsands Project is evasive, convoluted and fails to answer the questions directed to it by the Federal Court of Canada says a coalition of environmental groups that initiated the court challenge.

In March 2008, the Joint Review Panel was directed by the Federal Court to justify its conclusion that the expected 3.7 million tonne increase in greenhouse gas pollution from the project would have an insignificant impact on the environment.

"The Panel bobs and weaves and throws sand in everyone's face-but doesn't answer the judge's key question: How can it be that a project that is equivalent to putting 800,000 vehicles on the road is insignificant in terms of its greenhouse gas environmental effects? said Stephen Hazell, executive director of Sierra Club Canada. "Nor does the Panel explain how much the Project's greenhouse gas emissions would be reduced by Imperial's proposed mitigation measures, as the judge directed."

"The Panel confuses the issues of greenhouse gas emissions and smog-generating air pollutants." said Myles Kitagawa of Toxics Watch Society of Alberta. "The judge did not ask the Panel to discuss air quality, she wanted to know about climate change. It appears that the Panel either did not understand the difference, or deliberately took an evasive tact."

"The Panel took at face value the provincial government's 'endorsement' of the intensity targets as rendering all environmental impacts related to greenhouse gas emissions as acceptable." said Simon Dyer, Oilsands Program Director of Pembina Institute. "But they didn't explain why intensity targets--which will allow emissions to continue to grow--will ensure the greenhouse gas emissions of an oilsands mine has an insignificant impact on the environment."

Coalition members include the Pembina Institute, Toxics Watch Society, Prairie Acid Rain Coalition and Sierra Club Canada. They say that the panel report cites actions on non-greenhouse gas pollution and corporate programs unrelated to the facility as mitigating the 3.7 million tonne increase in greenhouse gas emissions caused by the Kearl project.

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Stephen Hazell, Sierra Club of Canada (613) 241-4611 or (613) 724-1908 (cell)
Simon Dyer, Pembina Institute (403) 322-3937
Myles Kitagawa, Toxics Watch Society of Alberta (780) 907-1231


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