Part of the public dialogue surrounding the proposed Raven coal mine project has centered around the need for a thorough and rigorous environmental assessment (EA) review process.
The recently released Application Information Requirements/ Environmental Impact Statement Guidelines Document (AIR/EIS) casts serious doubt on the EA process going forward being thorough and adequate.
So, what the heck is this AIR/EIS and why should you care if it’s adequate or not? The AIR/EIS is the template for the proponent’s application and sets the guidelines for information that must be adequately included in their application.
Just like a blue ribbon cake can’t be made with a recipe which is missing key ingredients, a thorough and rigorous EA review process can’t be accomplished with an AIR/EIS that is inadequate and missing key ingredients.
Noted professionals in fields such as marine biology, hydrology and socio-economics just to name a few, have reviewed the AIR/EIS, and across the board deemed it inadequate and deficient.
This means for instance, that rigorous studies required to examine the potential harm to the shellfish industry in Baynes Sound, and the precious watersheds flowing into Baynes Sound will not be accomplished.
Another key deficiency in the AIR/EIS is that the cumulative effects of the Bear coal deposit being developed and operated, will not be considered. The Bear coal deposit, situated above Cumberland, and in the Comox Lake watershed, is the next project likely to be developed by Compliance Energy Corporation if they are successful in getting a permit for the Raven coal mine.
If you live in Cumberland, Comox or Courtenay, and think the prospects of an open pit coal mine in the watershed supplying water for your household isn’t a good idea, this should act as a wakeup call.
Just because some elected officials and key decision-makers rhetorically declare that the EA review process on the Raven coal mine project is thorough and adequate, doesn’t make it so.
The residents of the Comox Valley and Port Alberni deserve and demand the most rigorous and thorough environmental review possible, and in the absence of that, the Raven coal mine project must be rejected at every level.
Editor’s note: John Snyder is the president of the CoalWatch Comox Valley Society.