Widespread criticism of B.C.’s mining rules is undeserved according to Energy and Mines Minister Bill Bennett, who has turned down a recommendation from the University of Victoria’s Environmental Law Centre for a judicial inquiry into mining regulation.
“Given the significant changes this government has made to how mining is undertaken and overseen in British Columbia, including changes to law and policy, additional resources to improve permitting processes and significantly strengthened compliance and enforcement, Government categorically disagrees that a Commission of Public Enquiry (sic) into the Province’s mining industry serves the taxpayers of B.C. Such a process would be demonstrably redundant,” Bennett wrote in a letter to the ELC.
The response has exasperated Calvin Sandborn, ELC legal director, who said the rejection is likely to cost B.C. taxpayers dearly because of immense costs of mine reclamation where environmental damage has been caused by poor government oversight and minimal enforcement of the polluter-pay principle.
“You can pay for an awful lot of public inquiries if you avoid just one disaster,” said Sandborn, who points to how previous public inquiries have improved regulatory systems and helped restore public confidence.