Cheviot developers ask for delay in Appeal Board hearing: Conservation groups counter-offer

Media Release

For Immediate Release, Sept.7, 2004

Cardinal River Coals Ltd (CRC) and its parent companies Teck Cominco and Fording Canadian Coal Trust have formally asked for a stay to delay the Alberta Environmental Appeals Board hearing of Ben Gadd's appeal of the haulroad portion of the Cheviot coal mine. Gadd and his lawyer, Jennifer Klimek, have sent a submission to the Board arguing the hearing should proceed as scheduled for Sept. 27-28 in Hinton, Alberta. One of the company's reasons for requesting the stay is that, "the hearing may be used by Mr. Gadd and others to obtain information from CRC that will be detrimental to CRC?s position in respect of the Federal Court Application," referring to the case launched by the conservation coalition.

Gadd and the conservation coalition through its counsel, Sierra Legal Defence Fund, have made a joint counter-offer to CRC. If CRC stops all work on Cheviot, including the haulroad, the conservation coalition will expedite its federal case and Mr. Gadd will agree to a stay of the Appeal Board hearing until after the court issues a decision on the coalition's case. The coalition supports Gadd's right to proceed with his appeal and Gadd agrees issues before the Federal Court are also significant.

"CRC tried to stop my appeal once before," points out a determined Ben Gadd. "Albertans have every right to appeal approvals and be heard in order to ensure transparency in Alberta's approval processes." Last April, the company unsuccessfully tried to claim Gadd was not directly affected and therefore that his appeal was not valid. Together with the Alberta Environment Department, they were also unsuccessful in trying to convince the Appeals Board that the substantially modified Cheviot development, particularly the haulroad portion, had been reviewed before in federal-provincial hearings. No hearings have been held yet on the new development.

A group of six Cadomin residents, also directly affected and opposed to the haulroad have applied to be heard at this month's appeal hearing. Alberta Environment has asked the Appeals Board to not allow their participation. Others have also applied to be heard, including Trout Unlimited Canada, Alberta Fish & Game Assoc., Town of Hinton, the president of the local miners' union, and a citizen and his family who for more than 20 years have enjoyed recreation in the Whitehorse Creek and McLeod River area where the haulroad is being built.

"It's simply irresponsible of the company to continue bulldozing ahead with construction of Cheviot without the necessary federal authorizations and a decision from the Alberta Environmental Appeals Board," emphasizes Dianne Pachal, Alberta Wilderness Director for the Sierra Club of Canada, one of the organizations that filed the federal case. The case asks the Court to order the federal government to undertake a review of the modified mine project in accordance with the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act.

The organizations that filed the federal case are the Pembina Institute for Appropriate Development, Canadian Nature Federation, Sierra Club of Canada, Jasper Environmental Association and Alberta Wilderness Association.

For More Information: http://www.sierraclub/national/cheviot
Ben Gadd, (780) 852-4012 and/or his legal counsel, Jennifer Klimek (780)468-1843
Dianne Pachal, Alberta Wilderness Director, Sierra Club of Canada (403)234-7368
Tim Howard, Sierra Legal Defence Fund, 1-800-926-7744 ext. 22