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Ottawa orders independent review panel for Suncor Energy oilsands mine extension

Click to play video: 'Suncor Energy says it will cut 10 to 15 per cent of its workforce over next 18 months' Suncor Energy says it will cut 10 to 15 per cent of its workforce over next 18 months
WATCH (Oct. 2, 2020): Oilsands and retail fuel giant Suncor announced Friday it will eliminate nearly 2,000 jobs over the next 18 months as a result of cost-cutting to deal with low oil prices and market volatility. Fletcher Kent reports – Oct 2, 2020

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.

Read more: Suncor Energy files application for base oilsands mine extension

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.

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READ MORE: Shelved Suncor thermal oilsands project gets approval from Alberta government

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.

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