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News Release

Audit Reveals BC Environmental Assessment of Prosperity Mine Was Nothing But A Rubber Stamp

Source: 
TŜILHQOT’IN NATIONAL GOVERNMENT

Posted on behalf of:
TŜILHQOT’IN NATIONAL GOVERNMENT
253-4th Avenue North, Williams Lake, BC V2G 4T4 - Phone (250) 392-3918 - Fax (250) 398-5798

Williams Lake BC, July 20, 2011: An audit of the BC Environmental Assessment Office (BC EAO) commissioned by the Northwest Institute for Bioregional Research raises explosive evidence of the length to which the BC government went to help Taseko Mines Ltd. (TML).

“We welcome this detailed and fully annotated audit by lawyer Mark Haddock, which supports our decision not to participate in what we knew to be a rubberstamp provincial review, and to work instead with the federal process,” said Xeni Gwet’in Chief Marilyn Baptiste of the Tŝilhqot’in National Government.  “This shows the provincial EA approval is not worth the paper it is written on and the public can have absolutely no faith in the BC EAO’s efforts to bring this fundamentally flawed mining project back from the dead,” said Chief Baptiste, who helped coordinate the Tsilhqot’in’s role in the previous federal review.

Tŝilhqot’in National Government Tribal Chair Chief Joe Alphonse said: “First we learn from the BC Auditor General that this office does not follow up on projects it approves, and now we learn that it does not even do its job when assessing proposals in the first place.

“We were relieved last year when the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency review panel actively listened to us, and we were justifiably concerned with BC EAO’s approach,” said Chief Alphonse. “Now Taseko Mines Ltd. is putting in what they claim to be a new application, that we know was an alternative of the mine already submitted in the original proposal. The Panel found that any alternative in the original application to be worse.  We are watching to see if our good faith in the Federal agency should continue.”

The Northwest Institute audit, “A comparison of the British Columbia and Federal Environmental Assessments for the Prosperity Mine,” details how:

  • TML requested a withdrawal from the Joint Review Process and BC complied
  • Prior to detailed technical reports, and final input from responsible federal regulatory bodies, BC approved the mine
  • BC applied weaker standards, in comparison to the Federal process, in assessing evidence, attention to First Nation issues, and had contradictory conclusions to the Federal findings

Chief Alphonse said: “We are concerned that BC’s goal of a streamlined environmental review is to water down the more comprehensive and accountable Federal process. The BC process isn’t about science or the environment, but rather politics. Taseko Mines Ltd. has always reminded us that they would get this mine approved with political pressure.”

Chief Alphonse concluded: “This audit demonstrates why the National Assembly of First Nations Chiefs last week unanimously passed a resolution pledging to help us defend our lands and cautioning the federal government that supporting this rebid mine proposal would totally undermine faith in the EA process. We, along with the rest of Canada, are expecting continued leadership in protecting Canada’s environment.”

The audit can be viewed in its entirety at: www.northwestinstitute.ca

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Media contacts:
JP Laplante, Mining, Oil and Gas Manager, Tŝilhqot’in National Government,
Tel: 250-267-3759