Economy and environment inextricably linked

The economy and the environment are not separate – they are one and the same.

The federal government has just cancelled 3,000 environmental reviews across Canada, as it works to weaken this country’s environmental protection so that the controversial Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline can go through northern B.C.

Nearly 500 project assessments have been cancelled in B.C., including a number in the Shuswap.

The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency has printed a scripted explanation (remember, scientists aren’t allowed to speak out themselves). It says that only “small scale” projects have had their assessments cancelled, projects so small they “pose little or no risk to the environment.”

And to replace their assessments, we are informed that the BC Environmental Assessment Office will pick up the slack. It will carry out assessments on these “small, low risk” projects instead.

But what constitutes a “small, low risk project?”

Here are the standards used by the current BC government to say that a project is too small to be assessed:

Tiny dams that hold a mere 9,999,999 million cubic metres of water.

Minute little coal mines that produce just 249,000 tonnes of coal per year

Insignificant sand and gravel pits that produce a mere 499,000 tonnes per year.

Miniscule little sawmills that cut a barely measurable 749,000 board feet a day.

Cute little neighbourhood natural gas processing plants that only generate 5.5 million cubic metres of gas a day, or a completely inconsequential two tonnes of sulphur emissions per day.

A laughably small slaughterhouse that generates a hardly visible 799 cubic metres of liquid waste discharge per day.

The federal government’s environmental rules are evaporating, and B.C.’s environmental standards are headed for extinction too. Australia is experiencing an economic disaster right now, because of its over-reliance on resource extraction.

Canada is heading down the same road. The economy and the environment are not separate – they are one and the same.


Warren Bell

Salmon Arm Observer