It’s one of the largest tar sands mining projects ever proposed.

It might even be the biggest.

If built, Teck Resources’ Frontier Mine could produce hundreds of millions of tonnes of dangerous greenhouse gas emissions over its 40+ year lifetime.

That’s right, massive amounts of carbon pollution would be locked in until 2067, well after the 2050 deadline by which Prime Minister Trudeau’s Liberals promised to achieve net-zero emissions.

Unbelievably, the project is still under consideration for federal approval. Cabinet has to decide whether to approve or reject the mine by the end of February.

The project (including impact agreements signed with First Nations) faces intense criticism and opposition from Indigenous communities, as the ecological damage it could wreak on old-growth boreal forest and endangered wildlife infringe on Constitutionally-protected treaty rights to hunt fish and trap. 

The upcoming decision on the Teck mega-mine is the first real test of the new Liberal minority government’s commitment to acting on the climate emergency, not to mention whether it will do better on Indigenous rights. In last October’s federal election, two-thirds of Canadians voted for climate action. The question is, will the Liberals offer us something real this time around?

We’ve been following Teck’s plans for a while now

Back in September 2018, Greenpeace Canada Campaigner Mike Hudema attended the initial hearings on Teck. Here’s his story (originally published last year).

This summer we all watched as extreme wildfires burned all over the world. This month we saw as climate fueled hurricanes and typhoons made landfall bringing death and destruction with them.

In these times when the effects of a growing climate crisis are here, it’s almost inconceivable that the reaction of any government could be to add more fuel to the fire. But that’s exactly what the Alberta government is considering and the Canadian government may be endorsing.

Starting tomorrow the hearing for the Teck Frontier mine will begin in Fort McMurray, Alberta — in the heart of the tar sands.

The emissions it creates would contribute to Alberta blowing past it’s so-called “oil sands emissions cap” and make it almost impossible for Canada to meet it’s international climate commitments.

It would also create a massive new toxic tailing lake adding to the over one trillion litres of toxic tar sands tailings in Alberta – with a clean up price tag currently at $45 trillion and rising.

In a rational world this project would be a non-starter. It would violate Alberta’s own emissions legislation, it is not in line with the science of climate change that says we can’t be building new fossil fuel projects and hope to stabilize the planet, and it adds to world already in climate crisis.

But this isn’t a rational world and so here we are and this week I will be in Fort McMurray to witness hearings that should never take place.

You can follow me for updates on twitter @MikeHudema.

Parts of Mike’s blog were updated in January 2020.