CoalWatch boss agrees B.C.’s Environmental Assessment Office is weak

Auditor General's critique of Environmental Assessment Office gets thumbs up from Raven Coal mine opponents

CoalWatch Comox Valley’s chairperson John Snyder agrees with B.C’s Auditor General John Doyle that the B.C. Environmental Assesment Office’s (BCEAO)  is not doing a good enough job in protecting our environment.

A report was recently released by B.C. Auditor General’s Office claiming improved oversight of certified projects is needed. 

It found that “when a environmental certificate is issued, the conditions and commitments surrounding its issue should be measurable and enforceable so staff can monitor the project for compliance.”

This does not happen consistently, therefore the EAO can not guarantee these conditions are being met, the report stated.

The report also found that follow-up evaluations are not being conducted and information being provided to the public is not sufficient to ensure accountability. Six recommendations were made to improve the effectiveness of the EAO and the government has accepted them.

Snyder said the report’s implications for the Raven Coal Project in Fanny Bay are evident.

“The A-G report on the BCEAO is quite disturbing,” he said in an e-mail.

“In my view, this A-G report, coming on the heels of the recent ELC (Environmental Law Centre) study, clearly indicates that the BCEAO environmental assessment process is broken, and new mining laws and regulations would be a good step towards a better process.” 

Snyder added the BCEAO is understaffed and underfunded in his opinion.

CoalWatch has been pushing for an independent review panel with public hearings for the Raven Coal project since the beginning, and Snyder said it’s clear now more than ever that this needs to happen.

The EAO website states that it agrees with the recommendations made in the Auditor General’s report and it has already been taking actions to enhance its oversight of certified projects in partnership with other agencies.

Visit www.bcauditor.com to view the full report.