David Krayden Ottawa Bureau Chief
February 24, 2020 10:23 AM ET
Canada’s Teck Resources Ltd. has withdrew its application for a $20.6 billion Alberta oil sands project because the Trudeau government’s environmental and climate change policies lack “clarity.”
In an open letter to Canada’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change posted on the firm’s website Sunday night, the company president and CEO Don Lindsay explained, “I want to make clear that we are not merely shying away from controversy. The nature of our business dictates that a vocal minority will almost inevitably oppose specific developments.”
The oil sands, located northeast of Edmonton, are considered to be the third largest petroleum reserves in the world.
The news comes just as the Ontario Provincial Police ordered environmental extremists to remove a barricade near Belleville, Ontario Monday that had brought railway traffic to a standstill for the past three weeks. After sustained criticism and with shortages of fuel and food looming, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Friday that “the barricades need to come down.” (RELATED: Trudeau Has No Plan To Deal With Crisis As Natives Block Two Bridges To US)
But for Lindsay and Teck Resources, it wasn’t just about the latest protest. “We are prepared to face that sort of opposition.” It was the “broader debate over climate change and Canada’s role in addressing it” that convinced the century-old mining company to pull out.
Lindsay cautioned that the oil sands project demanded clear direction from the federal government on what sort of resource exploration it would be willing to tolerate given the current level of climate change activism. (RELATED: Counter-Protesters In Alberta Tear Down Anti-Pipeline Barricade As Trudeau Contemplates Action)
“Without clarity on this critical question, the situation … will be faced by future projects and it will be very difficult to attract future investment, either domestic or foreign,” the letter says.
The company said it will take a $1.13-billion loss on the project that could have created 9,500 jobs in the Canadian oil and gas sector from construction to petroleum extraction. The federal government was expecting more than $70 billion in revenue from the project.
Their decisions to move on was made only hour after the Alberta government announced that two First Nations, originally opposed to the project, had agreed to allow the work to begin.
The Mikisew Cree and Athabasca Chipewyan First Nations were concerned about potential danger to bison and caribou habitats.