FORT MCMURRAY, ALBERTA -- (Marketwire) -- 10/23/12 -- The Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation (ACFN) today - on the first day of the hearings - outlined why the panel should hear its legal challenge against Shell's application to expand its Jackpine Mine and tar sands project. The Alberta and Canadian governments and Shell argued the challenge should not be heard at all, while conservation organizations across North America, including Greenpeace, NRDC, Environmental Defence and Sierra Club of Canada, announced their firm support.
'We are here today because a legal challenge may be the only remaining piece of law that can stop the destruction of our land,' said Allan Adam, chief of the ACFN. 'We are thankful for the mountain of support we've been receiving. People understand the significance of this challenge and what we must do for our land.'
As part of the hearings, the AFCN held a pipe ceremony and invited the public to rally behind the First Nation. Their legal challenge as filed argues that governments have failed to meaningfully address the overall impacts of development on ACFN's treaty rights and have failed to inform themselves of what ACFN requires in terms of land and resources to maintain their ability to exercise their rights now and into the future.
Since this challenge was filed a few weeks ago, more than 50,000 people from Canada and the United States have sent in comments to the Shell Joint Review Process and the CEO of Shell Canada voicing their objection to the mine application.
More than fifty conservation and justice groups and First Nations across Canada and the United States also today released a full-page ad in Fort McMurray newspaper, thanking the ACFN for the leadership they are showing.
'We want the ACFN to know loud and clear that in challenging Shell's latest tar sands expansion they have the full support from North America's conservation community,' said Keith Stewart, climate and energy campaign coordinator at Greenpeace Canada.
The Jackpine Mine Expansion would add another 100,000 barrels of bitumen production per day to the existing 200,000 barrels per day and extend the life of the mine to 2049. The tar sands project would create a pit lake in its final stages that once full in 2065, would cap 486 billion litres of tailings waste, made up of toxins like mercury, lead and arsenic. Meanwhile expanding the tar sands mine would add 1.18 million tonnes of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere.
'The environmental damage from tar sands extraction is getting worse, despite multi-million dollar ad campaigns to spin a greener story to the public,' said Gillian McEachern, campaigns director at Environmental Defence. 'Global warming pollution, toxic tailings and habitat destruction are all on the rise, and the Shell expansion alone would add as much pollution as 280,000 more cars on the road.'
Chief of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation
Climate and Energy Campaign Coordinator