Dirty deal: Environment Minister exempts refinery from environmental impact assessment

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Dirty deal: Environment Minister John Baird exempts colossal Canadian refinery from environmental impact assessment

Refinery is first to be built in Canada in a quarter century

(Ottawa, May 24, 2007) Following closely on the heels of Environment Minister John Baird’s decision to exempt industry from hard caps on greenhouse gas emissions, the Minister has today exempted from assessment under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act the first Canadian oil refinery to be built since global warming became a concern.

Irving Oil plans to build a colossal $7 billion dollar, 300,000 barrel/day refinery adjacent to its existing refinery in Saint John. Irving’s existing refinery is the largest in Canada and therefore among the top 25 greenhouse gas emitters in the country at 3.3 million tonnes of CO2 per year. The gasoline is to be marketed in the northeastern United States. Six out of 10 cars on the road in Boston are already fueled by gasoline refined in Saint John, New Brunswick.

“We are appalled that Minister Baird does not plan to have Environment Canada assess the impacts of the new Irving refinery’s emissions on global warming and smog,” said David Coon, Policy Director of the Conservation Council of New Brunswick. “The carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxides will cross provincial and international boundaries, one of the triggers for a federal environmental assessment,” said Coon. “Clearly, the federal government has legal obligations for the impacts of increased greenhouse gas emissions on global warming.”

“This decision is the first dirty deal to surface since the Harper Government delivered its Regulatory Framework for Air Emissions,” says Beatrice Olivastri, CEO, Friends of the Earth Canada. “We are shocked and appalled that this government is dodging the responsibility to rigorously review the GHG and air pollution of the proposed new refinery.”

Speaking on The Current (CBC, April 27), Minister Baird said the Irving’s new refinery “will provide great economic benefits for the province, a lot of jobs, a lot of hope, a lot of opportunity will be created with that. If we didn’t have an intensity-based system (for regulating greenhouse gas emissions) that wouldn’t be able to go ahead.”

The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency announced today that the proposed scope of the environmental assessment would be restricted to the potential impacts of the construction of a pier and breakwater to load gasoline and petroleum coke onto ships for export and the unloading of crude oil from supertankers. The public has until June 30th to comment on the proposed scope of the federal environmental assessment.

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David Coon, Policy Director, Conservation Council of New Brunswick, (506) 458-8747, email: dcoon [at] conservationcouncil.ca

Beatrice Olivastri, CEO, Friends of the Earth Canada, (613) 241-0085 ext. 26, cell: (613) 724-8690, email: Beatrice [at] foecanada.org


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