‘In violation of the rules of natural justice’: Alberta wrong to exclude environmentalists from oil sands regulatory process

In Early October a judge quashed the decision made by the county of Alberta, Canada not to allow environmental groups to take part in hearings on a proposed oil sands project. The province said the groups were not directly affected by the company’s plan to build the project on the banks of the Mackay River in northeastern Alberta.

Alberta officials said the environmental groups were 'not directly affected' by proposed plans for the banks of the McKay River

Alberta officials said the environmental groups were ‘not directly affected’ by proposed oil sands plans for the banks of the McKay River in the northeast of the county

Documents obtained through Freedom of Information requests suggest that the Institute’s recent oil sands publications, along with the government’s perception that the energy policy think tank was ‘less inclined to work cooperatively’, were reasons for rejecting the Pembina Institute’s Statement of Concern related to this project and others.

Justice Richard Marceau of Court of Queen’s Bench says the government’s actions were ‘tainted’ and ‘biased’; that they breached the principles of natural justice; concluding that ‘It is difficult to envision a more direct apprehension of bias’.

The Oilsands Environmental Coalition, which includes the Pembina Institute and the Fort McMurray Environmental Association, went to court in September to challenge Alberta Environment’s ruling involving an oil sands mine proposed by Southern Pacific Resource Corp. The province said coalition members were not directly affected by the company’s plan to build the project on the banks of the MacKay River in northeastern Alberta.

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