Jason Kenney is misleading Canadians about reasons for Teck project’s failure
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney took to Twitter on Sunday to brief Canadians on why Teck Resources decided to withdraw its application for the massive Frontier tar sands mine.
The Premier put the responsibility for the project’s failure on the federal government. “This decision is clearly the result of federal regulatory uncertainty” he stated. Kenney also blamed Wet’suwet’en solidarity protesters, calling them a “lawless opposition to resource development.”
Teck Resource’s own statement on their decision, however, appears to contradict this account.
Nowhere in the statement does Teck attribute their decision to “federal regulatory uncertainty.” Rather, the main reason they cite for stepping back from the project appears to be a lack of policy that “reconciles resource development and climate change.” The company appears to have been put off by the hyper-partisan discourse around climate action – a discourse that Kenney has exacerbated with his “take-it-or-leave-it” rhetoric and talk of national disunity.
There were, however, ongoing concerns that the Teck mine would not proceed regardless of federal approval. The feasibility of the project rested on commodity prices and receiving financing from investors which are increasingly shying away from the oilsands.
Experts had pointed out that the Frontier mine would remain unprofitable unless “American oil prices are above $75 US a barrel, which is more than $20 US higher than current prices.” Teck’s CEO even admitted in January that the project might not go through even with federal approval due to weak energy prices.
The changing priorities of money markets were also of concern. In their own statement, Teck writes that “global capital markets are changing rapidly, and investors and customers are increasingly looking for jurisdictions” with the cleanest possible products. They even concede that “this does not yet exist here today.” Canada’s oilsands remain one of the highest carbon-intensive sources of oil in the world.
The Premier’s finger-pointing at Indigenous solidarity protests is also contradicted by the Teck statement. “The nature of our business dictates that a vocal minority will almost inevitably oppose specific developments. We are prepared to face that sort of opposition.” The letter appears to reject Kenney’s assertion that Teck is shying away from the project because of protestors.
In their letter, Teck appeals for a more “positive” and “critical” discussion surrounding climate change and resource extraction. Kenney’s statement laying all blame on his political opponents is contradictory to what Teck says motivated their withdrawal.
While Teck may have hoped that, by stepping back from the project, they would inspire a more thoughtful discussion around resource development and the climate crisis, Jason Kenney has swiftly ensured that no such thing will happen under his watch.