NEWS: Harper eliminated reviews of tar sands projects following warning of water disruption
Postmedia News reports, “The federal government removed some oilsands projects from a list of those requiring environmental screenings, after being told in an internal memorandum that this form of industrial development could disturb water sources and harm fish habitat.”
The May 5, 2011 memo from a senior assistant deputy minister to the deputy minister of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans states, “Steam injection operations have the potential to cause surface upheaval and groundwater extraction operations may impact groundwater-surface water interactions. This could result in reductions in surface water flows in watercourses, leading to potential impacts on fish habitat.” The article adds that the memo suggests that some water-intensive in-situ projects also required reviews and authorizatons because of threats to the water supply and fish habitat.
“The memo … came a year before Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government introduced hundreds of pages of changes to Canada’s environmental laws, which will allow the government to exclude some oilsands projects from reviews. In total, the changes eliminated about 3,000 federal environmental assessments, including hundreds of evaluations of projects involving fossil fuels and pipeline development, once the laws were adopted in July 2012. …The Fisheries Act previously allowed for the minister to issue an authorization, allowing industrial developers to disrupt fish habitat, provided that they compensate with other measures to protect ecosystems. The new laws adopted in July, removed a requirement for some authorizations, shifting the focus instead to the protection of commercial, recreational or aboriginal fisheries.”
Keith Stewart, a climate and energy campaigner for Greenpeace Canada obtained the memo.
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