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Recommends federal government also get involved

VANCOUVER - The David Suzuki Foundation commends the Ontario government for its recent decision to ensure that the proposed Melancthon mega-quarry will be subject to a comprehensive environmental assessment.

"The people of Ontario have spoken loudly, clearly and passionately about this issue, and it appears the government has listened," said John Werring, aquatic habitat specialist with the David Suzuki Foundation's Marine and Freshwater Conservation Program. "This is a good first step, but more steps are needed to deal with the complexity and enormity of the issue. Regulations must be drafted and enacted. Laws will need to be changed."

The Foundation believes that even though this is largely a provincial matter, the federal government must also play a role. Federal involvement is required to address issues around First Nations' rights and title and resource use, impacts to Canada's food security, impacts to downstream fisheries, potential impacts to at-risk wildlife species and potential trans-boundary water issues (water quality and quantity).

"A federal environmental assessment of the mega-quarry is also needed and, in light of this recent announcement by the Government of Ontario indicating their willingness to do an EA, we are calling for a Joint Review Panel to be struck to carry out the assessment," Werring said.

A Joint Review Panel is a form of Environmental Assessment permitted only under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. It ensures both provincial and federal interests are covered.

A Joint Review Panel is often seen as the ultimate way to safeguard public interest in the federal environmental assessment process. A review panel is a group of experts selected for their knowledge and expertise and appointed by the federal environment minister. Such panels are usually appointed to review and assess, in an impartial and objective manner, whether a project will likely have adverse environmental effects and whether a project is in the public interest.

For more information please contact:
John Werring, Aquatic Habitat Specialist, David Suzuki Foundation, 604-732-4228, Ext 1245

September 2, 2011