Imperial Oil, Canada’s largest oil company, has lost a legal bid to overturn a federal regulatory decision that could delay the planned C$8 billion oil-sands project in Alberta.

The Federal Court ruled that the government acted properly to cancel a water permit because another court found flaws in an environmental report on the Kearl tar sands project.

“Since the report is incomplete it must be completed, and once completed it must be, yet again, placed before” the federal government for approval before a new water permit is issue by the fisheries department, the Judge ruled.

The decision was welcomed by green groups. “There’s a recognition that we need a higher standard associated environmental assessment of oil-sands projects,”’ said Simon Dyer, Pembina’s director of oil sands. “From a greenhouse gas perspective, you’re going to see more of these challenges until we get adequate mitigation that does actually result in real and absolute reductions in greenhouse gas pollutants.”

Can you actually mitigate the greenhouse gas emissions from oil sands though?