Tuesday, February 10, 2009

IPPs in BC and the Environmental Assessment Process

The BC Environmental Assessment process is a rigorous and detailed. I have sat through several of these processes on behalf of clients with projects or clients opposed to projects. The process is not easy and requires inordinate amount of detailed information for the project proponent.

The process is not about saying yes or not about a project, but about assessing the potential impacts of a project on the environment and then requiring changes to the project to reduce the impacts of the project. A proponent that has problems with the conditions coming from the process will do one of two things, they will either let the process do dormant or they will withdraw the project from the process. There are 14 projects that have been in the process for more than four years and 14 that have been withdrawn.

Some people have posted their concerns about the Plutonic Power Bute Inlet Hydroelectric Project. I see that the project is in the assessment process and has a project terms of reference. The terms of reference seem to comfortably deal with all the concerns with respect to wildlife that I have heard people raise. There are numerous fully qualified provincial and federal scientists that will be working on the assessment. If there is a danger to grizzly bears, then I expect the assessment to require changes to the project to remove the danger.

If the changes required by civil servants are too much for Plutonic, I would expect them to abandon the project. You can read the sort of things were required of them in the East Toba River Montrose Creek project here.

The blind opposition to projects is something I do not understand. The BC environmental assessment process allows for data to be submitted by anyone to the process. If you have data on wildlife or impacts on other industries, then submit it. But in reading most of the public comments submitted to date, there is almost no substance to any of them. Most of them are one or two paragraphs and make not real points other than the person is oppsoed to the development. The environmental assessment process is not a popularity contest. It is a science based review of a project. Any project that gets through the assessment is of low environmental impact.

If people do not want to have green power produced in BC, they need to elect MLAs willing to make it illegal to produce new green power.

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