The federal-provincial joint review panel released its report on the Grassy Mountain Coal Project June 17th. In it they found that the adverse environmental impacts of the project would be too great to be outweighed by any potential economic benefits. From the panel’s report: “In our capacity as a panel of AER hearing commissioners, we find that the project’s significant adverse environmental effects on surface water quality and westslope cutthroat trout and habitat outweigh the low to moderate positive economic impacts of the project. Therefore, we find that the project is not in the public interest.”
The report states that based on this assessment they are denying Benga’s application under the provincial Coal Conservation Act and states that “As we are not approving the project under the Coal Conservation Act, there is no need to approve Benga’s related applications under the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act, the Water Act, and the Public Lands Act, and therefore we also deny these applications.”
The report was written after a five week long hearing that included testimony from both the project proponent Benga Mining Limited, a subsidiary of Australian company Riversdale Resources, and a number of intervenors including CPAWS Southern Alberta, the Livingstone Landowners Group who brought forward concerns and expert testimony related to environmental, economic and community concerns, recommending that the project not be approved.
The panel also concluded that the project would result in the loss of lands used for traditional activities by Indigenous peoples and that the project is likely to result in significant adverse effects to physical and cultural heritage for three Treaty 7 First Nations. First Nations on a community level have been actively speaking out against the project for months and welcome today’s announcement by the Joint Review Panel.
The panel notes that without approval of the provincial applications, the project cannot proceed and therefore there was no need to provide the federal minister with mitigation measures should the project proceed.