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No trade-off for Teck project approval: Environment Minister

Last Updated Feb 21, 2020 at 11:19 am MST

CALGARY (CityNews) – The federal environment minister is pushing Alberta to implement its oilsands emissions cap but says it won’t be a trade-off for approval of the Teck Frontier mine.

A letter from Ottawa warns that if the Teck Resources project is approved, Alberta could go over the 100 million tonne cap on oilsands emissions.

The letter was sent Wednesday to Alberta’s Minister of Environment and Parks, Jason Nixon, from his federal counterpart Jonathan Wilkinson.

“Given there are approximately 2.7 million barrels per day of oil sands growth planned or under construction, there is significant risk that Alberta’s cap in emissions will be exceeded in 2030. Should all currently approved projects proceed, emissions could exceed 130 million tonnes – 30 per cent above your legislated cap.”

On Parliament Hill, Wilkinson was asked if Alberta’s decisions factor into the $20 billion project’s approval.

“No. We take into account all of the environmental factors associated with the project. This project does have greenhouse gas emissions. Of course, it’s relevant to think about that in the context that Canada has, but it is a separate thing. The conversation we’re having with Alberta (is) in regards to their work on climate change.”

Teck Resources plans to build the mine 110 kilometres north of Fort McMurray and would produce 260,000 barrels of bitumen a day at full capacity while employing 7,000 people.

RELATED: Teck Frontier mine not a political gift from Ottawa says Alberta Minister

In a statement to CityNews, a spokesperson for Nixon said they take issue with the letter’s claims about emissions targets.

“I’d reiterate that the 100MT cap is a backstop policy to prevent unconstrained emissions growth without technology improvement. Our TIER program will keep us under the cap- another policy that the current federal government has previously endorsed.”

Alberta has been lobbying the government for quick approval of the project to help boost a battered economy.

The province does have legislation capping oilsands emissions, but it’s not enforced. Wilkinson’s letter said when the Trans Mountain project was approved, it was understood Alberta would implement the cap.

The two environment ministers are expected to meet in the coming days.