The Alberta Energy Regulator says it won’t reconsider approvals for Suncor Energy to expand an oilsands mine into a wetland once considered for environmental protection.
The regulator released its ruling today in response to a request that was made last spring by the Alberta Wilderness Association.
Suncor had been given the OK to expand its Fort Hills mine into the McClelland Lake wetland complex, a large intact wetland that lies partly within the company’s lease.
The regulator paused those approvals while it examined the association’s concerns over Suncor’s plans to mine half the wetland and protect the rest with a 14-kilometre underground wall up to 70 metres deep.
The decision allows the original approvals to stand.
Scientists have calculated the entire wetland stores between the equivalent of between eight million and 35 million tonnes of carbon dioxide.
The wetland is estimated to overlay a billion barrels of bitumen.