LandKeepers News Archive
April 14 2009 | News Articles | Williams Lake Tribune
UPDATED: TNG asks for Prosperity comment period extension
April 14, 2009
Interested parties have until Friday to comment on a Tsilhqot’in National Government request to extend the federal comment period on Taseko Mines’ Prosperity project by 90 days after a funding agreement has been signed.
In an April 6 letter to Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA) panel manager Colette Spagnuolo, TNG mining co-ordinator Loretta Williams asks that the CEAA extend the deadline for comment on the federal Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Prosperity mine.
“The scope of the EIS review required by the TNG to adequately assess the project is far greater than the vast majority of, or perhaps all, other affected groups,” Williams writes. “Although the comment period commenced on March 26, 2009, we have yet to secure participant funding from the CEAA to start our review of the EIS.”
An independent panel recommended $300,000 in participant funding for the TNG March 3, but the TNG has yet to receive it, Williams says.
Funding won’t be dispersed until funding agreements are signed between the TNG and other recipients of review funding and the federal government, says Lucille Jamault, senior communications advisor for the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency. The signing of those agreements is currently underway, she says.
Once signed, the recipients will then be able to send in receipts to be reimbursed for amounts up to their respective funding amounts.
The current 60-day comment period ends May 25.
“Despite our best efforts, we have yet to receive funding from the CEAA,” Williams writes. “This is despite the fact that we have advised CEAA, repeatedly, over the course of the last several months, that delays in funding are seriously compromising our capacity to engage in this review, and are rapidly undermining the legitimacy of the entire process… without this funding, we simply cannot access the technical support that is necessary to understand and review the EIS.”
The TNG did receive a draft contribution agreement April 1, and Williams says she hopes the agreement will be finalized in a number of days.
There will be a provision in the agreement to allow retroactive costs to be reimbursed, the CEAA said Tuesday.
“The Terms of Reference do not provide the Panel with the authority
to alter its provisions, and therefore any change to its contents, including all
timelines, would require approval from the Minister of the Environment,” panel chair Robert Connelly says. “Based on all comments received, the Panel will make a decision on whether to
request the Minister of the Environment to amend the Terms of Reference to
allow an extension to the deadline to submit comments on the adequacy of the
Environmental Impact Statement.”
The panel has also asked the CEAA to provide “specific information” on the reference to funding in Williams’ letter.
Taseko Mines vice president of corporate affairs Brian Battison says he is skeptical about the TNG’s motives in asking for the extension.
“The TNG chiefs wrote to the provincial government on July 10, 2008, and said they will do everything in their power to make sure the project moves forward, and on Jan. 6, 2009, the Tsilhqot’in nation initiated legal action against the provincial and federal governments and Taseko to stop the project,” Battison says. “I see this as a tactic consistent with that goal.”
He says the Prosperity gold and copper mine proposal at Fish lake deserves fair treatment.
“If it is vulnerable to delay tactics, public confidence will be damaged,” he says. “Confidence will be damaged if (the review process) is seen to be unable to deliver timely and reasonable progress.”
Comments on the extension request can be submitted to CEAA panel manager Colette Spagnuolo at 160 Elgin Street, Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 0H3. A copy of the email comments can be submitted to is located at the end of the article on the following website:
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