Ottawa says it is referring the impact assessment of a Suncor Energy Inc. oilsands mine extension in northern Alberta to an independent review panel.
The review is in the public interest given the extent to which the open pit project could adversely affect areas of federal jurisdiction, and considering concerns expressed by the public and Indigenous groups, Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson said Friday.
The Impact Assessment Agency of Canada is to work with the Alberta Energy Regulator to co-ordinate federal and provincial regulatory processes, he said, including the potential for a joint review panel. Its next steps are to invite public and Indigenous comment on the draft impact statement guidelines and the public participation plan before finalizing both.
The Alberta government is urging Ottawa to complete their assessment in a timely fashion to avoid delays that drive away investment, said Peter Brodsky, senior press secretary for provincial Energy Minister Sonya Savage.
He added the referral to an independent review panel doesn’t reflect on the AER’s “comprehensive, world-class review process.”
Suncor filed an application for the mine development a year ago even though it said it won’t be needed until 2035, when the nearby existing mine that supplies its Base Plant is played out.