Let the Experts Speak

Let the Experts Speak

Let the experts speak! When I say this, I am not talking about the self-proclaimed experts that think they understand an industry because of a few hours on Google. We all know the internet has loads of misinformation but when it comes to understanding some of the most complex and important issues to our economy, our environment and our well-being, should we just accept it as an accurate source of information? The groups that often oppose natural resource development in the province are rarely industry experts in the area’s which they oppose. Even fewer have worked in the industries they claim are no good. Often their claimed expertise comes from browsing the internet, then cherry picking pieces of information from select studies. Sometimes they use the history of projects in other jurisdictions, in past decades or relevant to old technology. Rarely are these relevant to the province, the modern technologies or the location of a new resource project; sometimes they are not even relevant to the industry! It’s not that there shouldn’t be balanced conversation on a project or that people can’t have an opinion, it more a concern that the general public needs to be very careful of where they are getting their information from.

The most trustworthy source for information from a proposed resource development project is the proponent themselves. This information is then published through the Environmental Assessment Office (EAO). I know this might sound crazy, but for those that have been involved in the development of a project it really isn’t. I know some may strongly disagree but let me take a moment to tell you why this is truly the case.

For some, putting blind trust in the government and the proponent isn’t the easiest thing to do, but if you understand the process it becomes much easier. Canada, and even more specifically BC, has extremely stringent environmental standards. The BC Environmental Assessment is where all this information comes together. Before ever forming an opinion on any project the public should ensure they have a good understanding on the process. You can find more information here. https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/environment/natural-resource-stewardship/environmental-assessments

Without getting into too much detail here, the EAO essentially determines what information is important and tells the proponent to provide this information before the process proceeds. They do no expect the information to be brief descriptions and it is definitely not articles found on Google. The proponent is required to provide expert analysis in all manners of the project including environmental, economic, social and cultural aspects. This in turn requires the input of many experts from engineers, scientists, lawyers, and community leaders to fulfil the requirements.

Now I imagine your next though may be, “But what about corporate greed?”, and, “Don’t trust them. They have a conflict of interest”. An understanding of what an expert professional is clears up these concerns. Ethics, regulatory oversight and reputation are what keep them honest. While most of these experts are being paid by the proponent, it doesn’t mean the proponent is the only person they are responsible to answer too. These expert professionals have years of education, and often decades more practical experience in their respective fields. For these reasons we consider them experts. Their regulatory bodies hold them to codes of ethics and violation can often mean fines, stripping of professional designations or worse. Their professional reputation and the reputation of their company are on-the-line for mis-information or deception. For this reason we can call them professionals. The combination makes them professional experts and these are the experts we should let speak.

Trust the government to hold the proponent accountable, and let proponent pay the experts. This information is published for public review and the public is then allowed to share opinions on the project. There is a formal public consultation period during the EAO process for this very reason. This is the process we have, it is the process we should trust, it is the process we should follow, and the process that makes BC a world leader in the permitting of resource development projects.

So please, don’t rely on Google. Let the experts speak! It’s the best way to ensure that BC resources equal BC jobs and the reason why you should care.

Dan Rae

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