The House

'Entirely appropriate' for feds to weigh climate impacts of oilsands project: minister

Environment and Climate Change Minister Jonathan Wilkinson says it's "entirely appropriate" for the federal government to take into account the possible carbon emissions of a proposed open-pit oilsands mine in its ultimate verdict on the project.
Environment and Climate Change Minister Jonathan Wilkinson says it is “entirely appropriate” for the federal government to weigh the prospective carbon emissions of a proposed open-pit oil sands mine in its ultimate verdict on the project. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

Environment and Climate Change Minister Jonathan Wilkinson says it's "entirely appropriate" for the federal government to take into account the possible carbon emissions of a proposed open-pit oilsands mine in its ultimate verdict on the project.

Speaking from Madrid, Spain — where he attended the United Nation's COP 25 climate change summit — Wilkinson said the decision to approve Vancouver-based Teck Resources' Frontier mine, north of Fort McMurray, Alta., will be up to him.

If he concludes the project risks significant negative impacts, he can pass the decision-making power to the federal cabinet.

Environment and Climate Change Minister Jonathan Wilkinson checks in from Madrid, where he attended the United Nations' COP 25 climate change summit.

Either way, the project's climate impact will be taken into account, he said. The federal government wants to take Canada to net-zero emissions by 2050.

"It is entirely appropriate for people to ask the question about how this fits in the context of the climate plan," Wilkinson told The House.

"That is a question that I will have to answer and that is a question that cabinet will have to answer. It absolutely is something we're going to take into account and that is appropriate for a government that is focused on addressing climate change.

"Whether we approve it or not, we are going to have to be able to explain one way or the other, why. And one of the issues that we will have to be able to speak to is the issue of carbon emissions."

The Frontier Mine is a proposed 292-square-kilometre open-pit petroleum-mining operation projected to produce some 260,000 barrels of oil a day.

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