Here is a timely update from Wilderness Committee:
Budget 2012: What’s coming down the pipeline?
Last week the federal government introduced their Budget for 2012. From an environmental perspective, the budget is bleak. For people who care about clean air and fresh water, wild salmon and endangered species, there is reason to be very concerned.
The budget weakens environmental standards and signals significant budgetary rollbacks for regulatory oversight of major industrial developments.
Timelines for federal reviews of large industrial developments, such as the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline, have been arbitrarily shortened. “Smaller” developments will have weaker reviews and may not be reviewed at all and the federal government is planning on delegating the review of some developments to provincial governments.
In British Columbia that is a big concern because provincial environmental standards have been gutted over the past decade and people who are concerned about clean air, fresh water and wildlife and wilderness have looked to stronger federal laws for protection of these values.
The budget also signalled large cuts to the Federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans. This comes on top of leaked documents which showed the federal government is planning to radically weaken habitat provisions for wild fish across Canada.
Although polls show that 85% of Canadians want more effective environmental laws, the federal budget moves us in the opposite direction.
The Harper government also signalled its intent to go after environmental organizations by challenging their charitable status and ability to communicate environmental concerns to their members. This falls on the heels of natural resources minister Joe Oliver referring to “environmental and other radical groups,” in his infamous open letter last January.
Perhaps what is most concerning of all is the fact there has been almost no public consultation on these issues. Environmental safeguards that our parents worked for are now being eroded with the public being left in the dark.
Greasing the skids for large corporations by lowering environmental standards and speeding up review processes is a recipe for disaster. Canadians should be able to depend upon their government to balance the role of environmental protection with economic development – and that isn’t happening right now.
Fortunately, ordinary people are stepping up the plate to show their concern for environmental protection. Last week nearly 2,000 people rallied in Vancouver to say ‘No’ to tar sands pipelines that endanger our Pacific coast. And nearly 1,000 rallied against the Enbridge pipeline outside packed public hearings in Comox on Vancouver Island. The government can try to cut back the public review process, but they can’t cut away the opposition to destructive projects like these pipelines.
By taking action together, we can withstand these latest attempts to weaken environmental protection in this country. That is why the Wilderness Committee has joined to together with over 50 environmental groups to launch a great new website that explains our concerns about this budget, called envirolawsmatter.ca
For the wild,
Gwen Barlee | Policy Director Wilderness Committee
P.S. We asked for your help and you answered! Thank you for your generous contributions to our efforts to fight to defend the area around Fish Lake against the ‘New Prosperity Mine’ development. This ill-advised mine is the type of project that could more easily be approved because of the changes announced in this federal budget.
Thank you for supporting wilderness.
“Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.”
Today’s “stone” is Day 98 strive, struggle on, support the earth, keep on signing letters and petitions, be heard