Rejection of the Raven Underground Coal Project by the provincial Environmental Assessment Office is not a knockout punch.
Nor is the B.C. government’s announcement that it opposes Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline a death knell for that project.
The former announcement is some validation for a process that has been questioned and maligned by opponents of a coal mine in an area overlooking Baynes Sound.
The latter probably came as a shock to opponents of a Christy Clark government that surprised pundits by soundly defeating the Adrian Dix-led NDP that surely would have forbidden the pipeline.
Back to Raven and the Environmental Assessment Office, which certainly dealt a setback to Compliance Coal Corp. in an initial screening of its application.
Although the company submission was about 12,000 pages, the EAO in its 114-page critique decreed there were significant gaps in the information, including environmental impacts as well as consultation with the public and First Nations.
Considering half of B.C.’s shellfish aquaculture industry operates in Baynes Sound, there is considerable concern about how a coal mine in the hills above the water would affect B.C. Shellfish Growers’ Association members.
And there is the K’omoks Band, which says it has had only minimal consultation so far. The new band council, still assessing the project, has a lot of clout.
Compliance may reapply, and likely will. Beginning a mine is a long and costly process.
And world markets change, as do company fortunes. The end of this story is a long way from being written, although there are some excellent reasons to not build a mine – even if it’s underground – in a populated area that relies on clean water.
The pipeline story has yet to be written, too, although opposition by the government of the province that stands to lose the most if something goes wrong is a notable obstacle.