Feds called on to take over frack sand mine environmental assessment

Thursday, May 09, 2019
The Manitoba government’s assessment process allowed clearcutting before an environment license was even issued
The Manitoba government’s assessment process allowed clearcutting before an environment license was even issued

WINNIPEG - An environmental watchdog is calling on the federal government to take over the environmental assessment of a massive frack sand mine proposed by Canadian Premium Sand along the east shore of Lake Winnipeg in Hollow Water First Nation territory. 

Frack sand, or silica sand, is sought after by the fossil fuel industry for hydraulic fracking for oil and gas. 

The Wilderness Committee reports the Manitoba government permitted clearcutting of the project’s plant site and roadways despite the lack of required project information or an Environment Act license. 

“The shoddy approvals process the Manitoba government is undertaking is astonishingly destructive to the lands, waters and community of Hollow Water First Nation and in no way allows for informed discourse or consent for this project,” said Wilderness and Water Campaigner Eric Reder. “The community is being torn apart because of Manitoba government’s mismanagement.”

Sustainable Development Minister Rochelle Squires claims the process is fine, yet the forest has already been clearcut. Advice from provincial government staff to halt all forest clearing has been ignored. The Manitoba Law Reform Commission stated, after similar problems in the past, the Manitoba government must change the Environment Act process. But Premier Brian Pallister is ignoring this key recommendation. 

“The provincial government’s attitude seems to be ‘no licence, no problem.’ Rare ecosystems and threatened species have been harmed, old forests have been clearcut and the Manitoba government has been well aware of the destruction, without doing anything about it the whole time,” said Reder. “Pallister and his cabinet can’t be trusted to look after nature, nor the climate, nor the shore of Lake Winnipeg where this project is happening.”

The Wilderness Committee is asking the Minister of Environment and Climate Change Catherine McKenna to step in and take federal control of the assessment.

“This fossil fuel project cannot proceed because we as a society can not build more fossil fuel infrastructure.” said Reder. “We cannot lose more nature and wilderness for fossil fuel expansion. It’s the stark truth, our planet will not endure under a premier like Pallister.”

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