Common Sense Canadian

Environmental hearing process not working for public

PostedJanuary 31, 2014 by in Canada
Environment hearing process not working for public

The 3-member panel reviewing Site C Dam has complained about the volume of documents from BC Hydro

Read this Jan. 27 letter to the editor in the Vancouver Sun by David Suzuki Foundation Senior Science and Policy Advisor John Werring on our broken environmental assessment process.

Site C review panel chairman Harry Swain, an acknowledged expert in public environmental policy, says the panel is overwhelmed by the sheer volume of documents BC Hydro has dumped on them in relation to that project.

The panel, supported by paid experts in various fields, has nine months to wade through this mountain of information before making an “informed decision.”

Contrast this with the public’s right to review and comment on this, or any other, project. Laypeople are often given only 30 days to review and digest the same material and must usually do this on their own time and dime.

The Canadian Environmental Assessment registry currently includes 37 major projects proposed for B.C., ranging from port expansions to oil and gas developments (including pipelines) and major mining projects. Each involves thousands of pages of highly technical documents that need to be reviewed.

If the experts can’t keep up with the volume of material, how is the layperson expected to?

Is it any wonder that many of these projects will likely proceed as planned despite sometimes overwhelming opposition by the people who will be most affected by them?



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