Natural Resources Minister Jerome Kennedy speaks to the media at the Confederation Building media centre Tuesday afternoon following a technical briefing where he introduced new legislation entitled An Act Respecting the Use and Expropriation of Land for the Muskrat Falls Project, prior to it being put forth in the House of Assembly. The act would ensure Nalcor and Emera have the ability to acquire or expropriate the necessary land to advance the proposed Muskrat Falls hydroelectric project.
— Photo by Joe Gibbons/The Telegram
Nalcor Energy is applauding a Federal Court ruling, released Thursday, dismissing a challenge of the lawfulness of the environmental review for the Lower Churchill hydro dams.
The Grand Riverkeeper, Sierra Club of Canada and the NunatuKavut Community Council had filed the challenge, claiming the work of the joint provincial-federal environmental review panel had not properly assessed alternatives and had failed to look at cumulative environmental effects.
In filing the case, the trio of groups were attempting to halt the first stage of the Lower Churchill project — the dam at Muskrat Falls — in its tracks.
NunatuKavut Community Council president Todd Russell also said the federal loan guarantee and other advancements on the project from the point of the environmental review should not have been issued and are unlawful, as far as his organization is concerned, pointing to the stated claims.
The Federal Court has now responded. According to a statement released by Nalcor Energy, Justice David Near concluded: “the Panel reasonably fulfilled its mandate to consider, gather information, and report on the need for, alternatives to, and cumulative effects of the project, the applicants' prayer for relief is denied.”
“We are very pleased that the Federal Court confirmed the lawfulness of the (environmental review) panel’s report and the decisions made by the Government of Canada following the release of the report,” stated Gilbert Bennett, Nalcor Energy vice-president and Lower Churchill project lead.
The decision Bennett is referring to is the decision to release the project from further environmental assessment.
“We are also pleased that the (Federal) Court addressed the numerous allegations of the NunatuKavut Community Council and concluded that there were no infringements of NunatuKavut’s rights through the environmental assessment process. The court found that they were given every opportunity to be heard, were treated fairly and that there was no infringement of procedural fairness as alleged,” Bennett stated.
The Telegram has yet to see the ruling, but will have more in tomorrow’s print and digital editions.
Meanwhile, in the House of Assembly Thursday evening, provincial Minister of Natural Resources Jerome Kennedy spoke about the objections of the NunatuKavut Community Council to the project.
“Mr. Chair, the Crown has fulfilled, continues to fulfill, and will continue to fulfill its obligations in respect to consultation with NunatuKavut Community Council. I just want to make that clear for the record,” Kennedy said.