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Some oil sands projects to be exempt from environmental assessments, if…

Don Horne   


Some oil sands projects will be exempt from federal environmental assessments as long as Alberta maintains a cap on oil sands emissions, according to draft regulations from the Ottawa.

Canada is in the process of revamping legislation governing how major energy and infrastructure projects are assessed. On Wednesday the government released new details of which projects would be scrutinized under the proposed Bill C-69, according to Reuters.

New in-situ oil sands projects, also known as thermal projects, which pump steam underground to liquefy tarry bitumen so it can flow to the surface, will not be subject to federal assessment providing Alberta keeps a hard cap on greenhouse gas emissions introduced by the previous New Democratic Party government. Oil sands mining projects will be included on the Bill C-69 “project list.”

The NDP was ousted by Jason Kenney’s United Conservative Party in Alberta’s April 16 election. Previous Premier Rachel Notley had introduced the 100-megatonne cap on oil sands emissions as part of her government’s climate plan.


Kenney, who was sworn in as premier on Tuesday, said his government will challenge Bill C-69 in court if it is passed into law in its current form because it intrudes on provincial authority to regulate natural resource development.

“The federal government has zero constitutional authority to big-foot in here and pretend that they can regulate oil sands development,” Kenney said at a news conference.

He added his government has no plans to change the emissions cap because the province is nowhere close to hitting it.



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