A $ 20.6 billion oil tanker project with broad support in Alberta was canceled late Sunday when Teck Resources Ltd. publicly announced that it would withdraw the application it had on the table, awaiting federal approval in a few days.
The extraordinary move to kill the Teck Frontier mine came a few hours after the Alberta government signed two agreements to collaborate with the first nation Mikisew Cree and the first nation Athabasca Chipewyan on the project.
The long-awaited development in Alberta’s energy sector was expected to create around 7,000 jobs during construction and 2,500 over its 41-year lifespan.
Prime Minister Alberta Jason Kenney raised concerns about national unity in a statement sent on Sunday as he blocked the company’s move in part on “federal indecision” during the ongoing approval process and “inaction” between ongoing rail blocks across the country.
“We did our part,” he said. “But the federal government’s failure to convey a clear or unified position has allowed us, and Teck, to get off.”
Kenney said he would seek “greater control and autonomy for Alberta within Canada” by using “all available tools”.
The company communicated its decision to the federal and provincial governments over the weekend.
A source familiar with the trial told Star that the company explained that it wanted to avoid the environmental opposition that was developing around the project and did not want to be targeted by anti-oilands sentiment.
“We are disappointed that we have reached this point,” wrote Don Lindsay, president and CEO of Teck, in a letter to the Federal Minister for the Environment Jonathan Wilkinson, outlining the decision.
“Teck presented a socially and ecologically responsible project that was industry leader and had the potential to create significant economic benefits for Canadians.
“I want to make it clear that we are not simply avoiding controversy,” continued Lindsay. “The nature of our business requires that a vocal minority almost inevitably oppose specific developments. We are ready to face this type of opposition. Frontier, however, sparked a broader debate on climate change and Canada’s role in tackling it. Our hope is that withdrawing from the process will allow Canadians to move on to a broader and more positive discussion of the path to follow. ”
The project was seen as a potential boost to Alberta’s besieged economy, which has faced low oil prices and job losses in recent years. But the federal cabinet has been stuck on whether to approve the project because it would increase greenhouse gas emissions at a time when federal liberals have pledged to reduce them.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Kenney spoke about Teck’s decision on Sunday and a statement from the prime minister’s office said it “agreed on the importance of Canada’s natural resources sector”.
They also discussed Wet’ssuwet’s ongoing railway blockages that have sprung up across the country in support of hereditary leaders who oppose a pipeline in British Columbia, the statement said. The blockages caused widespread interruptions in CN Rail and Via Rail services.
Trudeau said last week that the blockages must be reduced.
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The blockades were not raised by Teck in his letter to the environment minister, but thousands of Canadians have shown support for the movement in recent weeks, while others have expressed their disappointment at the blockades and their effects on the economy.
“Teck’s decision is disappointing, but in light of the events of the past few weeks it is not surprising,” said Kenney.
Environmental Defense, an advocacy organization, said in a statement that Teck’s move signals that it is time for the federal government to introduce a “climate test” so that the plans are aligned with Canada’s environmental goals.
Julia Levin, head of the group’s climate and energy program, said the project “sparked a divisional debate about the prospects for a new fossil fuel infrastructure in a world that is moving rapidly to tackle change. climate “.
“Now is the time to invest in projects that provide jobs and create clean energy and clean growth,” he said.
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