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B.C. Auditor finds fault with environmental approvals

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The Auditor General of British Columbia has found serious faults in how the government's Environmental Assessment Office oversees projects it has certified.

The Auditor General of British Columbia has found serious faults in how the government’s Environmental Assessment Office oversees projects it has certified.

In particular, the auditor general is perturbed that the EA office is not following up on projects and monitoring them to make sure that they fulfill the requirements that were imposed as a condition of the project being approved.

In his introduction to his report issued July 2011, “An Audit of the Environmental Office’s Oversight of Certified Projects,” Auditor General John Doyle wrote:

“When major projects such as mines, dams or tourist destination resorts are undertaken in the province, British Columbians expect that any potentially significant adverse effects … will be avoided or mitigated. The Environmental Assessment Office is expected to provide sound oversight of such projects. However, this has not been happening.”


Doyle continued: “The audit found that the Environmental Assessment Office cannot assure British Columbians that mitigation efforts are having the intended effects because adequate monitoring is not occurring and follow-up evaluations are not being conducted. We also found that information currently being provided to the public is not sufficient to ensure accountability.”

The report continued that, “The EAO’s oversight of certified projects is not sufficient to ensure that potential significant adverse effects are avoided or mitigated.”

In specific terms, one criticism was that commitments made in submitting projects for environmental approval were not clearly written in a “measurable and enforceable manner.” The auditor recommended that the EAO ensure that this problem is corrected, along with other recommendations such as that the EAO “clarify the post-certification monitoring responsibilities and compliance mechanisms for each commitment,” and said it should conduct post-certificate evaluations of projects.

The EA office responded in the report and indicated it would work on complying with the recommendations.

To see the auditor’s report, click here.


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