The City of Cold Lake and M.D. of Bonnyville will both apply to an upcoming Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) hearing for Imperial Oil’s Cold Lake Expansion Project in response to a regulatory appeal from Elizabeth Métis Settlement.
In August 2018, the AER had cleared the Expansion Project’s regulatory hurdles after a two-year wait, which put the ball back into Imperial Oil’s court to decide if they still wanted to pursue the expansion.
Elizabeth Métis Settlement requested a regulatory appeal on Sept. 12, 2018, and it was accepted in December.
The city passed a motion to apply for the hearing Tuesday night during their regular council meeting, and the M.D. followed suit yesterday.
“There’s a growing sense of helplessness in the community,” Mayor Craig Copeland said in a press release Wednesday.
“Here we have a project that has been jumping through regulatory approvals since 2016. We had heard it was finally approved, and now another hearing is announced. There are lots of people in Cold Lake who want to get back to work, but the regulatory process seems endless.
“It’s time for all levels of government to take meaningful action if we want our energy sector to recover,” said Copeland.
The project was slated for $2-billion and would produce 55,000 barrels a day.
Elizabeth Métis is looking for a stay of the AER decisions pending the outcome of the appeal, a reversal of AER’s decisions to approve the project or a revision of AER’s approvals.
These approvals would include a project-specific traditional land use and impact study, an in-depth historical assessment on the former colony lands, and a stay of the approval until the conditions have been fulfilled.
Elizabeth Métis says that Imperial Oil erred when finding their Environmental Impact Assessment to be complete and did not provide any analysis of the site selection procedure, descriptions of cultural or historical impacts to the land, plans to mitigate negative cultural impacts or any program of public consultation under S.49 of the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act.
This was one of seven reasons given in the appeal.
The purpose of the hearing will be to determine whether AER should uphold, change, or even confirm, vary, suspend or revoke its decision to issue the appeals.
The hearing has not been scheduled yet.
After the regulatory hurdles were originally cleared in 2018, Imperial applied for amendments to the Cold Lake expansion project so that it could take a phased-in approach to the project with the intention of accomplishing the project in its entirety, but over a longer period of time, said in 9.41 in city council’s notes on April 9.
The hearing that AER has granted is for the Cold Lake Expansion project’s March 2016 application (the original project application/approval).
“There were billions of dollars in investment lined up for our area and we have not seen a single shovel hit the ground,” Copeland said. “We have heard lots of talk about energy projects, but very little action.”
The Cold Lake Expansion Project is located about 23 kilometers northwest of Cold Lake.