Senator Murkowski writes:
“The tailings pond breach at the Mount Polley Mine on August 4th has renewed the specter of environmental impacts from large-scale hardrock mineral developments in Canada that are located near transboundary rivers.”
“…this incident should compel the State Department to evaluate additional steps that may be warranted to safeguard U.S. interests.”
“One such step would be to encourage Canada’s federal government to undertake a Panel Review of the Kerr-Sulphurets-Mitchell (KSM) mine in British Columbia.”
British Columbia’s Lack of Transparency over Controversial Northwest Transmission Project Denounced: FOI Appeal FiledTadzio Richards : Oct 10.2012
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 10, 2012
British Columbia’s Lack of Transparency over Controversial Northwest Transmission Project Denounced: FOI Appeal Filed
The B.C. government is refusing to disclose basic background information with respect to a controversial power project proposed for northwest British Columbia. Rivers Without Borders, the conservation organization that filed the freedom of information (FOI) request, today called on the Information Commissioner to intervene.
The FOI request concerns one of the most significant rural electrification projects in the province’s history. After several months of delay, the B.C. government responded to Rivers Without Borders’ request by releasing 76 blank pages. “We think this is a blatant disregard of a request for information that the public has a right to know,” says Tadzio Richards, Conservation Campaigner with Rivers Without Borders. “We have lodged a complaint with B.C.’s Information and Privacy Commissioner.”
Construction of phase one of the mammoth $561 million Northwest Transmission Line (NTL) from Terrace to Bob Quinn Lake began this spring. However, whether, how and when a controversial extension of the line 100 km further north will be built remains uncertain. If built, the extension will dramatically escalate resource development in the region.
The federal government kicked in $130 million from the Green Infrastructure Fund for phase one of the NTL project on the condition that the B.C. government take responsibility for building the extension. The stated rationale for this arrangement was that the extension would provide clean (non-diesel) electricity to two small First Nations communities. However, according to the Pembina Institute, if mining and development activity facilitated by the extension is factored in, the net effect of the extension would dramatically increase the amount of greenhouse gas emissions attributable to the project.
British Columbia was required to submit its plans for the extension project by June 30, 2012 under the federal-provincial funding agreement. Six weeks before this deadline, the Environmental Law Centre (ELC) filed an FOI on behalf of Rivers Without Borders to confirm whether these plans exist, and if the province intends to do an environmental assessment of the extension project. Over a hundred days later, the B.C. government responded by providing a document consisting of 76 blank pages, along with five emails that were almost completely redacted.
“In building the transmission line, B.C. has promised to connect northern communities to the grid in exchange for millions in federal funding,” says Richards. “So far, the B.C. government has provided no evidence that they will fulfill their green obligations. This power line looks like it is being built for mines rather than communities.”
The government’s response in this case is consistent with what FOI advocates have complained is a broader trend toward secrecy and non-disclosure, particularly where Cabinet documents or politically sensitive information or deliberations are involved.
“British Columbians need to be reassured that their provincial government respects its obligations under B.C.’s freedom of information laws, and that it is committed to a transparent process for the evaluation of the very significant environmental impacts associated with the NTL extension in terms of greenhouse gas emissions and cumulative effects” says Chris Tollefson, ELC Executive Director. “To date, the government’s record on this file provides little confidence on either front”.
On behalf of Rivers Without Borders, the ELC is requesting the Information Commissioner review the response, arguing the government has misinterpreted its obligations under B.C.’s FOI legislation and, as a result, has withheld information it is legally required to disclose.
The B.C. government’s response to the FOI request can be seen here:
Alaska Dispatch News and voices from the Last Frontier ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
September 16, 2009
It’s been said that strong fences make good neighbors. But those neighbors need to lean across that fence and talk to ensure a safe, clean, and peaceful neighborhood. That’s what Sarah Palin tried to do on one of her last days in office when she wrote to the government of British Columbia urging a timely halt to highly toxic acid mine drainage (AMD) flowing from the abandoned Tulsequah Chief mine into the Taku River watershed. For over 50 years, the mine has been polluting this transboundary watershed with AMD that Canadian regulatory agencies found to be “acutely lethal” to aquatic organisms.
Monday, August 31, 2009
Parnell should make Taku River a priority
Letter to the editor
Thanks for the Juneau Empire article last week discussing the Taku River and its contribution to Juneau’s sport fishing. Taku River salmon account for about 90 percent of our spring king catch, 25 percent of sport-caught kings during the rest of the season and one third of the local coho harvest. The Taku is the most productive river in Southeast. Its wild salmon support hundreds of jobs and provide millions of dollars in revenue to Southeast Alaska.
In a clear indicator of the importance of the Taku to Alaska, former Gov. Sarah Palin, on one of her last days in office, sent a formal request to the government of British Columbia urging the cleanup of highly toxic discharges from the Tulsequah Chief mine. For 50 years, the mine has been polluting the Tulsequah River with acid mine drainage found by Canadian regulatory agencies to be "acutely lethal" to aquatic organisms.
The owner, mining company Redfern Resources, is bankrupt and has essentially abandoned the Tulsequah Chief Mine. Redfern recently removed most of the equipment and a water treatment plant from the mine site in order to sell them to pay creditors, despite a specific request from Palin not to do this. The British Columbia government has largely ignored the problem, while Environment Canada has issued a series of cleanup orders but has done little to enforce them.
Alaska’s Department of Natural Resources and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game have vigilantly protected the Taku River’s fisheries, but it is important that they keep the pressure on British Columbia and the rest of Canada to clean up this mess. Since the British Columbian government has so far ignored Palin’s letter, I urge Gov. Sean Parnell to continue efforts to halt the pollution from the Tulsequah Chief Mine.
Alaska has managed the Taku River to protect water quality and healthy spawning habitat, which will ensure that the Taku’s rich fisheries continue to benefit many generations of Southeast Alaska families and businesses. But we need to engage with British Columbia more. While the Alaska side of the Taku provides the majority of the rearing habitat for juvenile salmon, the British Columbia side has the majority of the spawning habitat.
I hope Parnell makes the Taku a priority. As Randy Bates, director of the Alaska Coastal Management Program, said in February about the Taku River, "There are certain areas that warrant just a little more protection."
Chris Zimmer, Juneau
Sarah Palin writes to the Alaska State Department of Natural Resources to ensure their vigilance on stopping acid mine drainage at teh Tulsequah Chief mine. Download her letter as a PDF.
In one of her last acts as Alaska’s governor, Sarah Palin wrote to BC Premier Gordon Campbell to request his help in ensuring the clean up of BC’s acid polluting Tulsequah Chief mine. Download letter as a PDF
Click here to see our petition asking the Canadian government to enforce cleanup laws at the Tulsequah Chief and Big Bull mine sites.
To: Anne Curry, Project Assessment Director, BC Environmental Assessment Office
Subject: Comments on Proposed Terms of Reference for the Mount Klappan Coal project assessment
January 8, 2007
Re: Terms of Reference for the Environmental Assessment of the Mount Klappan Coal Project
Prepared for Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans by Rob Walker, Manager, Project Assessment, Yukon Executive Council Office (09.24.2004)
Advice to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency Screening of the Tulsequah Chief Mining Project and Associated Transportation Impacts.
Prepared for Department of Fisheries and Oceans by Dr. Martin Raillard, Manager, Northern Conservation Division, Canadian Wildlife Service (09.03.2004)
RE: Environment Canada’s Review of Redfern’s Documentation with Respect to Caribou Issue.
Click here to download the CWS Letter [PDF]