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Canada’s Supreme Court rules that federal government, industry can’t avoid rigorous environmental analysis of mine proposals through administrative chicanery.

On federal lands in the United States, until recently we had “notice” and “plan” mines.  

“Notice” mines were smaller — and by definition didn’t require a complete enviromental analysis (i.e. Environmental Impact Statement or EIS under the National Environmental Policy Act).  “Plan” mines were (and are) the larger industrial operations (e.g. an open-pit mine). 

Plan mines almost always require an EIS.  In addition to a complete environmental analysis of the proposal along with several alternatives, they require a more transparent process with mandated opportunities for public input.

In MiningWatch Canada’s (and partners) court victory yesterday, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled:

“that the federal government cannot split projects into artificially small parts to avoid rigorous environmental assessments. The ruling also guarantees that the public will be consulted about major industrial projects, including large metal mines and tar sands developments.”

Or in U.S. parlance:  you can’t divide up plan mines and call the parts notice mines to avoid an Enviornmental Impact Statement.

At MiningWatch Canada’s site, you can learn more about the decision from their press release — which includes links to the text of the decision and more background.

Congratulations to our friends at MiningWatch Canada!

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