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Alberta government in court to stay judge’s order regarding oilsands decision


CALGARY — Alberta government lawyers are to be in a Calgary court today to ask for a stay of an order requiring it to make a decision on a proposed oilsands project near Fort McMurray.

Last week, Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Barbara Romaine gave the province 10 days to make a decision on the Rigel project.

Prosper Petroleum Ltd. argued that waiting for the last 19 months for the province to decide on the project has been unreasonable.

It was initially proposed in 2013 and approved by the Alberta Energy Regulator in June of 2018.

The United Conservative government quickly appealed the ruling and is asking for it to be stayed until the appeal is heard.

The 10,000-barrel-a-day, steam-driven project would be built in the Moose Lake area, about 70 kilometres northwest of Fort McMurray.

The region is sacred to the Fort McKay First Nation. An agreement to protect the area was reached under former Alberta premier Jim Prentice but was never ratified.

The project was recently the subject of a meeting between Indigenous leaders and members of the provincial cabinet. The two sides agreed to meet again in April.

Romaine pointed out in her decision that, on average, it takes the Alberta cabinet seven months to make a decision on a project such as Rigel.

“There is a strong public interest in encouraging a timely cabinet decision. The balance of convenience supports an injunction,” the judge said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 26, 2020.

Follow @BillGraveland on Twitter

Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press




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