Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Throne Speech on Environmental Assessment

From today's throne speech in BC

The government will work with other provinces and the federal government to establish one process for one project. There is no time to waste and Canadian taxpayers cannot afford the extra costs, the uncertainties and the lost jobs that are the products of the current system.

The Canadian Environmental Assessment Act must be amended to create a unified federal‑provincial review process that does away with redundancy and unnecessary costs.

Multiple governmental reviews replicate work, add cost, increase uncertainty, delay decisions, reduce investment and ultimately cost jobs.

We will redouble our efforts to conclude equivalency agreements with Ottawa to ensure environmental reviews are cost effective, timely and thorough.

Currently, over $3 billion in provincially‑approved projects are stranded in the mire of federal process and delay.

This is unacceptable.

Time is money. Duplication is waste. Tax dollars are limited.

We cannot afford to hold investment and jobs hostage. Byzantine bureaucratic practices have no place in the 21st Century.

The government will fully respect and adhere to First Nations' rights to consultation and accommodation.

That essential ingredient will be complemented with a new unified process for environmental assessment and permitting in British Columbia.

The "One Project, One Process" approach will create a single framework that is timely, diligent and science-based.

This is an issue that has concerned me for years, it is not rational to have a federal and provincial environmental assessment process. All that having two processes is to ensure that a lot more money is wasted. Delays in projects that are going go ahead is a loss in government revenues. Doing the process twice means governments are spending money needed for social services and protecting the environment on redundant reviews.

The federal government needs to get out of the environmental assessment process. The environment with respect to lands and resources is the responsibility of the provincial government. If federal issues are impacted, they can offer input on those through the BC process.

Having seen the federal and provincial processes in action, the big advantage one gets from the provincial process is that it sets out parameters under which a project might go ahead and then sets up a long term monitoring process. The federal process does not offer this.

The environmental assessment processes have been used as tools by people opposed to any development as a way to delay projects. As a society we have not had any buy in to the idea that resource development should not occur. It is unreasonable to use the environmental assessment process as a way to cause roadblocks for projects just for the sake of creating roadblocks.

Rural BC has natural resources, without their development the majority of small rural towns will become ghost towns.

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