- Announcements: (round table; please distinguish clearly between discussion items and announcements!)
- Emergent items:
Legislature rallies (see agenda items 4a & 4b, below)
SALT display table at PIA conference?
- Committee & Watching Brief Reports:
Long term care, (Carol);
Environment, other issues (Cecily);
Finances (Tim, Robin);
Telephone tree (Edda);
February 26, noon – 1:00 pm: Friends of Medicare rally in support of safe consumption sites; Legislature
February 27, 4:00 – 5:00 pm: AFL/ATA rally “March for what matters”; Legislature (or, Convention Centre at 3:30).
February 27, 6:30 pm: Parkland Institute’sannual dinner and silent auction; Chateau Lacombe; tickets $125 from Parkland (780-492-8558 or on-line).
April 2 – 3, 2020: PIA Annual conference (see https://www.pialberta.org/conferences ; SALTies get membership discount).
- Agenda items for next meeting:
Do we have a revenue or expenditure problem? What is/are the solution(s)?
- Next meeting: Tuesday, March 10, 2020
Opinion: Deliver on commitments before approving Teck Frontier by Linda Duncan
Premier Jason Kenney has called on the government of Canada to “respect the law and the regulatory process, rather than substituting politics for regulation.” (Calgary Herald, Feb. 10). Yet if we actually examine the findings by the joint federal-provincial review panel (JRP) on the Teck Frontier mine project, it becomes evident that both federal and provincial governments need to step up and actually deliver on their legislated responsibilities and commitments to sustainable development.
In the wake of demands for expedited federal approval of the Teck Frontier mine, there has been a deafening silence on the actual findings and recommendations by the JRP. They identified a litany of significant and irreparable impacts and recommended measures to address them, despite finding the project in the public interest.
These include impacts requiring government intervention far beyond the widely debated loading of carbon emissions, although it is worth noting the JRP determined that Teck had not committed to a “best-in-class” greenhouse gas emissions plan and no such regulatory requirement has also been imposed.
Post-Harper government amendments, federal approval of major energy projects remains relegated to the political level — the cabinet. At the federal level, powers of a review panel are limited to assessing project benefits and impacts, reporting its findings and recommending approval or rejection of a project, subject to any recommended measures or conditions. However, the government in making its decision is legally obligated to be fully informed of and consider any detrimental impacts.
While debate over the Frontier mine has centred on projected carbon emissions and sufficiency of commitments by Alberta to achieve substantial reductions, far less attention has been paid to the extensive list of other significant, high-magnitude and irreparable or irreversible impacts identified by the JRP requiring timely and expedited action.
The JRP determined that the project poses significant threats to the Peace Athabasca Delta, in particular to the Peace and Slave rivers, and to the region’s old-growth forest and wetlands. They recommended expedited action on long-overdue species recovery and action plans for the woodland caribou and Ronald Lake bison, finalization of the fisheries offsetting plan and implementation of the long-awaited Lower Athabasca Regional Plan to provide the “frameworks, plans and thresholds” necessary to identify and manage regional cumulative impacts.
The JRP concluded that the Frontier project in combination with other existing, approved and planned development would also result in significant, adverse cumulative effects to biodiversity. They called for an end to delays in a health effects study previously recommended by local communities and previous joint review panels. These expedited actions were also endorsed by UNESCO following their lengthy investigation.
The clear objective of these long-awaited measures is to provide an evidenced-based foundation to gauge capacity of the region to bear cumulative impacts of existing and future proposed projects. It not only defies logic to suggest they be undertaken after further project approvals, the delay contradicts Canadian environmental and assessment law.
Yet, as Premier Kenney castigates the federal government for dragging its heels, notably absent is any commitment on his part to finalize these critical frames and baselines to ensure sound evidence-based decision making on this project.
Many defend project approval, arguing benefit agreements have been signed with Indigenous leaders. Yet such compensation is commensurate with JRP findings that the project would result in significant and adverse effects to their asserted rights, use of lands and resources and culture. Some Indigenous leaders remain stolid that, despite benefit agreements, no final approval should be issued until the duty to consult is fully delivered on these outstanding measures.
It’s time to stop the finger-pointing and actually deliver the foundational work necessary for sound, evidence-based decision making on major energy projects.
Edmonton Journal, February 20