The federal government's plan to shrink its oversight of proposed natural resource developments, cutting many environmental reviews or passing them to the provinces, is a major step backwards for Canada in the protection of its citizens and the air, water, soil and healthy ecosystems on which we all depend.
Here are some key points from the David Suzuki Foundation in response to the announcement:
Reviews protect people as well as natural systems
- Canada's environmental review processes and laws are in place to safeguard our families and communities from pollution, toxic contamination and other environmental risks.
- Today's decision to reduce Canada's environmental review processes and rush the approval of major oil and mining projects, among other industrial development, will lead to poor decisions — putting the health and safety of Canadians at risk.
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- Rushed public review of megaprojects risks could leave citizens on the hook for multibillion dollar clean-up costs when things go wrong later.
- Most Canadians recognize that our economy needs to shift away from overdependence on non-renewable natural resources to a cleaner, innovative, and diversified economy that protects the health and safety of Canadians — and provides more and better jobs over the long-term.
- Canada needs a measured and thoughtful approach that ensures that we approve projects that make the greatest contribution to a cleaner, more innovate economy, not a 'rubber stamp' for non-renewable resource development at all costs.
Federal environment reviews matter
- Recent reports by the Auditor General have shown that the federal government is failing to monitor oil pollution levels in our rivers and today's decision is weakening the oversight and enforcement that could lead to the approval of potentially dangerous projects.
- Eliminating or limiting federal environmental reviews means eliminating the environmental safety net for things like fish and fish habitat, which are the federal government's legal responsibility.
- Provincial environmental assessment processes are inconsistent from each other and often weak, lacking key safeguards of the federal process.
Several of the above points are courtesy of West Coast Environmental Law.