Unceded Algonquin Anishinaabe Territories [OTTAWA], 27 September 2023:
Climate Action Network Canada condemns the failure of the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) to take responsibility for its role in the Imperial Oil disaster, made evident by its response to a third-party review released today.
“Alberta’s response to the Imperial tailings spill illustrates the extent to which energy regulators are captured by the interests of the fossil fuel industry, which they continue to protect over the rights and safety of Indigenous Peoples,” said Caroline Brouillette, Executive Director of Climate Action Network Canada. “Today’s statement from the Alberta Energy Regulator Board shows a complete lack of accountability: it fails to acknowledge the impacts of this disaster on Indigenous nations or to promise any proactive steps to better protect communities. It’s clear that we urgently need to decolonize Canada’s energy regulation apparatus and to hold oil and gas companies accountable – or else they will continue to pollute waters, lands, and air with complete disregard for the consequences to communities and the planet.”
For nine months, toxic tailings from Imperial Oil’s Kearl mine leaked into the territories and waters of downstream Indigenous communities, including Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation and Mikisew Cree First Nation, without their knowledge. Despite knowing of the issue since May 2022, the AER failed to properly inform communities or to hold Imperial Oil accountable.
In response, Indigenous and environmental organizations issued a series of calls to action, including halting production at the Kearl facility until all impacted nations have given Free, Prior, and Informed Consent; charging Imperial Oil under federal and provincial law; and replacing the AER with an independent regulatory system in which Indigenous nations share decision-making authority.
Read the statements from the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation, Indigenous Climate Action and from Keepers of the Water and Environmental Defence.
Canada’s farthest-reaching network of organizations working on climate and energy issues, Climate Action Network – Réseau action climat (CAN-Rac) Canada is a coalition of 150 organizations operating from coast to coast to coast. Our membership brings environmental groups together with trade unions, First Nations, social justice, development, health and youth organizations, faith groups and local, grassroots initiatives.
For more information or to arrange an interview, contact:
Vicky Coo, Communications Lead
Photo credit: Nicholas Vardy