A recent letter to the editor (Record, Aug. 16) by the president of the Coal Watch Comox Valley Society takes issue with the environmental assessment process for the proposed Raven Coal project.
It questions the information requirements that have been imposed on the proponent, but fails to note some important points with respect to the regulatory process in B.C. and Canada.
The decision as to what information is required from a proponent is made by environmental assessment experts within the British Columbia Environmental Assessment Office and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency. These requirements are set only after extensive consultation with the public, stakeholders, local governments, government agencies and First Nations.
In the case of the Raven Coal project, the information requirements were the subject of particularly extensive input. Draft requirements were posted on the Internet and comments were sought from all interested parties. Several open houses were held.
The proponent was required to track and consider each and every issue raised and the responses were reviewed by environmental assessment officials before the requirements were finalized. Environmental assessment officials provided the public and interested parties with an unprecedented opportunity to comment not only on the draft information requirements, but also on the proponent’s response to earlier comments from interested parties.
Overall, it took nearly three years from the time the project entered the environmental assessment process for the application information requirements to be determined.
Now the proponent must assemble the required information and studies and submit its application.
Interested parties may continue to participate in the process and to comment on the application once filed. The environmental assessment process is one of the most open, inclusive and transparent processes available and it should be respected and not prejudged.
Coal mining is a rich part of the history of Vancouver Island, and coal continues to be mined on Vancouver Island successfully and safely to this day.
Mining is, overall, one of British Columbia’s most important industries. It employs thousands of people in communities throughout the province, with salaries averaging well above the provincial average.
Mining contributes hundreds of millions of dollars to government revenues that can be used to fund important programs like health and education. The environmental assessment process helps ensure that mining proceeds in an environmentally responsible way and the Mining Association of British Columbia fully supports that goal.
Editor’s note: Angela Waterman is vice-president, environment and technical affairs for the Mining Association of British Columbia.