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UPDATE: How will Harper’s cuts to the CEAA affect the Fish Lake environmental assessment?

On May 10, the Williams Lake Tribune reported, “Taseko Mines Ltd. hopes its new Prosperity mine proposal will be approved by the federal government. …The federal government asked Taseko to redesign the project and address the environmental concerns raised by the federal assessment. …The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA) now has the Prosperity project description which, at this point, is considered a draft.”

The process is that, “CEAA reviews the project description and may seek further information from Taseko. There is no fixed time limit for this. Acceptance by CEAA that the project description as complete marks the beginning of a 90-day period within which the agency posts a Notice of Commencement (NoC) and posts the project description on its website. Then CEAA, in discussions with other departments, the province, and First Nations, decides on the nature and type of environmental assessment process to be used. The time it takes from this point for the federal government to complete its environmental assessment process is depends on the process selected.”

There is no apparent ‘Notice of Commencement’ currently on the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency website, so the presumption can be that the CEAA has not yet accepted the Taseko proposal (despite the passage of more than six months since Taseko submitted their ‘draft’ proposal on February 21, according to a CBC report. A Globe and Mail report in mid-March noted that the CEAA “asked Taseko Mines to provide more details about its revamped proposal for the controversial Prosperity Mine, saying a revised description the company submitted in February was incomplete.”).

Still, it’s not too early to begin to question the impact the Harper government’s intention to gut the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency will have on the Fish Lake proposal. As a reminder, in mid-July Postmedia News reported that, “The federal government will slash funding to the environmental agency that evaluates potentially harmful policies and projects before they get the green light. …The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency is looking at a 43.1 per cent cut in spending, dropping from $30 million in 2011-12 to $17.1 million in 2012-13, according to the agency’s planning documents. This cut follows a 6.9 per cent, or $2.2-million, drop in the funds government allocated to the agency in 2010-11. Along with the budget cuts, the 17-year-old agency is facing a one-third reduction in the number of full-time staff…”

The Council of Canadians has been opposing the destruction of Fish Lake. For more information on that campaign, go to