The Alberta government will not appeal a judge’s ruling that it unfairly barred environmental groups from an upcoming public hearing into a proposed oil sands project in the province’s northeast.
Environment Minister Diana McQueen said the government will ensure that all concerns about projects are vetted on their own merits after Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Richard Marceau last month chided officials for keeping the Pembina Institute and another green group from participating in a Southern Pacific Resource Corp. project hearing.
The judge had said in his decision that the process was “tainted” and biased against Pembina, citing an internal department briefing note that mentioned the group had previously “published negative media on the oil sands.”
“It is important that all directly affected Albertans share their environmental concerns with us on industry projects,” Ms. McQueen said in a statement. “Moving forward, we will continue to ensure that each and every potential statement of concern is reviewed on its own merits and decisions are made in accordance with the policies and legislation.”
The Pembina Institute will resubmit its statement of concern and seek to participate in the proceedings, said Simon Dyer, the group’s policy director.
“We’re obviously disappointed that we have to reapply on the same grounds, the same impacts on recreational lands and concern about the local caribou herd,” Mr. Dyer said. “We’re somewhat disappointed that the government didn’t just acknowledge their mistake and accept our application. There was no apology and no communication with us regarding their decision not to appeal.”