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NEWS: Federal panel pans Fish Lake project

The Council of Canadians has been campaigning against a proposal by Taseko Mines that would allow Fish Lake to be drained and Little Fish Lake to be destroyed to store tailings from a mining project under a Schedule 2 exemption to the Fisheries Act.

FEDERAL PANEL REJECTS FISH LAKE PROPOSAL

The front-page of the Globe and Mail today reports that, “A federal review panel ruled late Friday that the Prosperity copper-gold mine (at Fish Lake) would have ‘significant adverse environmental effects’ on several factors, including fish, fish habitat, grizzly bears and first nations’ use of the land for traditional purposes.”

The panel’s comments can be read at http://www.ceaa.gc.ca/050/documents/43937/43937E.pdf.

B.C. HAS APPROVED THE MINE

“The open-pit mine, which would use the lake to store waste tailings from the copper and gold processing, has already been approved by the B.C. government. While the B.C. assessment foresaw harm to the environment, it concluded that was outweighed by a predicted $5-billion economic injection over the 20-year life of the mine and $600-million of revenue for various governments.” (But the Canwest News Service reports that, “The panel also challenges virtually all of the assumptions made in December 2009 in favour of the project by the B.C. government in its own environmental assessment, saying the province had inadequate information upon which to base its decision.”)

HARPER TO MAKE DECISION BY EARLY-SEPTEMBER

“The federal environmental review, which held 30 days of public hearings this spring, didn’t have a mandate to assess economic benefits, so the question is left to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, backed by Environment Minister Jim Prentice. …A final answer will come by early September, as cabinet has 10 weeks to make a decision, a spokeswoman for the review panel said.”

B.C. STILL PUSHING FOR THE MINE

“Bill Bennett, B.C.’s Mining Minister and a former fishing guide, will push Ottawa to give the green light to the mine, located about 250 kilometres north of Vancouver.”

TASEKO HAS NOT COMMENTED YET

“As of late Friday, Taseko officials had not returned calls for comment, nor put out a press release regarding the federal panel’s 296-page report.”

BUSINESS GROUPS STILL WANT THE MINE

The Georgia Straight reports that, “Several B.C. business organizations have urged the federal cabinet to approve the proposed $800-million Prosperity Gold-Copper Mine, even though a federal review panel has found that it would have a negative impact on the environment. In a news release issued July 2, the Business Council of B.C., the Mining Association of B.C., the Independent Contractors and Businesses Association of B.C., and the B.C. Chamber of Commerce all spoke in favour of developing the mine in the B.C. Interior.”

THE COUNCIL OF CANADIANS

THE CBC reports that, “‘The federal government would be wise to heed the findings and shut down this mine proposal entirely or face huge resistance in B.C. and across Canada,’ said Maude Barlow, chair of the citizens’ rights organization Council of Canadians.”

For more on the Council of Canadians campaign to defend Fish Lake, please go to http://canadians.org/water/issues/TIAs/teztan-biny.html.

TAKE ACTION

To write environment minister Jim Prentice to tell him that the Schedule 2 exemption that allows for freshwater lakes to be turned into tailings ponds must be closed, please go to http://canadians.org/action/2010/schedule2.html.

LINKS

Read more at http://www.cbc.ca/canada/british-columbia/story/2010/07/02/bc-taseko-mine-federal-environment-assessment.html#ixzz0scfwxwHO, http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/british-columbia/harper-to-decide-on-fate-of-controversial-bc-mine/article1627110/, http://www.straight.com/article-332150/vancouver/business-leaders-ask-conservative-cabinet-approve-prosperity-mine, http://www.edmontonjournal.com/technology/Panel+pans+mine+proposal/3232070/story.html#ixzz0scjcxxHR.