An investigation by Postmedia News has revealed that almost 3000 environmental assessments have been cancelled due to the Harper government’s budget cuts. That number includes 500 in British Columbia alone. Almost 700 were related to fossil fuels and almost 250 are related to pipeline projects. The cuts came into effect on July 6.
The assessments are meant to ensure that projects will not cause adverse effects to the environment surrounding the proposals.
Projects that no longer require assessments include a replacement generating station by BC Hydro, mixed-use development on Tsawwassen First Nation lands and road reconstruction along Ottawa’s Sussex Dr.
Gregory Jack, the Director, Operations for the Task Force on Energy, Security and Sustainability wrote in a presentation to the pan-European Oil Sands Working Group that the proposed Northern Gateway Pipeline could be used to push for regulatory reform allowing “Canada to define its own interests.” He also described ENGOs as ideologically driven and opposed to the Gateway regulatory process simply because they are opposed to the oil sands in general. The presentation was obtained by Climate Action Network Canada through Access to Information.
BC NDP Leader Adrian Dix has suggested that the provinces might pull out of the current federal review of the pipeline project and start their own review to assess the potential risks for the province. His party is currently leading in the polls with an election coming next spring.
The federal NDP is asking Peter Kent, the Minister of the Environment, to do public consultations to help draft new environmental regulations. The party’s Environment Critic, Megan Leslie, said it doesn’t make sense that this many projects would suddenly be just fine without any assessment.
A spokesperson for Environment Canada could not say whether the projects will face reviews by other agencies and called the projects ‘routine.’
This government has shown over and over again that environmental assessments are just more ‘red tape’ that they are trying to eliminate to appease big business.
Photo Credit: Marine Photobank