The crude politics of oil sands is laid bare for all to see. Despite a court ruling stopping the oil sands project the Canadian government is giving Imperial Oil the green light to begin construction of its $8-billion Kearl oil sands mine.

In a notice yesterday, the government said the federal cabinet endorsed an environmental review panel report – completed after the court ruling – that concluded in classic Orwellian style that the project’s “considerable” greenhouse gas emissions would not pose a “significant adverse environmental effect.”

Critics were quick to attack the move to reinstate the permit so quickly. “The government is failing to look at the big picture,” said Sean Nixon, lawyer with EcoJustice, an environmental group that launched court challenge.

“This is a project that is going to create emissions equivalent to having 800,000 cars on the road. The oil sands sector is going to represent 10 per cent of Canada’s total emissions by 2015,” he said.