On May 14, a federal judge ruled that Imperial Oil (Exxon Canada) could not proceed with draining muskeg at Kearl in northern Alberta in preparation for a new Tar Sands extraction project, even though it had a permit from the federal government, because the government had not conducted a full environmental review.
On June 5 — less than four weeks later — the federal government quietly announced that an environmental review panel had concluded that the project would not have a “significant adverse environmental effect” despite its “considerable” greenhouse gas emissions.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Cabinet immediately endorsed the panel’s super-quick review, clearing the way for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to issue a water use permit. [UPDATE: On June 6, one day after the Cabinet decision, the DFO re-issued the permit that the court had ruled invalid, allowing Imperial Oil to go ahead with its destructive project.]
We often hear that it takes time to implement change, that governments must consider all the options, consult all the stakeholders, draft documents carefully, allow lots of time for second thoughts.
But as this example shows, capitalist governments can move very quickly, when their class interests are at stake.