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News Release

MiningWatch Joins Environmental Groups Demanding Changes to Canadian Environmental Assessment Act Be Removed from Budget Bill

For Immediate Release - May 11, 2010

MiningWatch will join other national environmental groups and coalitions this afternoon to ask the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance to remove the government's proposed amendments to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA) contained in the Budget implementation bill, number C-9. The proposed changes would effectively reverse a recent Supreme Court decision on the Red Chris mine project and ensure continued delays and confusion on environmental assessments of major projects, as well as allowing the public to be excluded from arbitrarily redefined review processes.

The government has chosen not to submit its proposals to public consultation or Parliamentary debate. Instead, it has hidden them in the middle of a huge and complex budget package.

“The statutory seven-year review of CEAA is due to begin next month, and we were - and are - looking to that process to discuss and develop much-needed improvements to the Act. By any measure these proposals have precious little to do with the budgetary process.” said MiningWatch spokesperson Jamie Kneen. “To bring in major changes to the Act, unannounced, at this time and using this mechanism is nothing short of an expression of outright contempt for the Canadian public and Parliament itself,” he continued.

The proposed Prosperity copper-gold mine in British Columbia is a good example of the value and importance of a strong and consistent federal role in environmental assessment. It is subject to both a provincial assessment and a panel review under CEAA. The federal review panel has been hearing evidence from the affected communities, independent fisheries experts, and social scientists. Serious shortcomings in the proponent's proposals have been identified and are now being reviewed. Meanwhile, the provincial review has been completed and the project has been approved by the BC government - with only minimal conditions, and without the participation of the Xeni Gwet'in First Nation, the Tsilhqot'in National Government, or the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs.

“If it weren't for the federal review, there would be no meaningful consideration of significant issues around the project's impacts on water and fisheries, and the interests of the Xeni Gwet'in First Nation and the Tsilhqot'in National Government,” said Kneen. “These changes simply need to be surgically excised from the Budget bill.”

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Contact: Jamie Kneen, MiningWatch Canada (613) 569-3439 (office) or (613) 761-2273 (cell)