The response to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency report on Taseko's proposed New Prosperity mine is a preview of how politicians, corporations, First Nations and environmental lobby groups will react to the findings of the joint review panel examining the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline.
In a report issued Thursday, the agency raised serious environmental and social concerns about Taseko's proposed open-pit copper and gold mine, 125 kilometres south of Williams Lake.
"The [project review] panel concludes that Tasekos failure to provide any new hydrogeological data in support of the new mine plan and its refusal to provide additional geotechnical field data or modelling results as requested by the panel have resulted in an incomplete understanding of the interaction between Fish Lake (Teztan Biny) and the open pit [mine]," the agency report says. "The panel concludes that there is strong evidence that the seepage from the tailings storage facility would be significantly higher than estimated by Taseko..."
In addition, the review panel concluded "the environmental effects on the current use of lands and resources for traditional purposes by the Tsilhqotin [First Nation] and on cultural heritage... are immitigable.
The scientists and experts the Government of Canada pays to know more about this stuff than anybody else - and provide an impartial, third-party analysis - think the project is a technical and social dud.
But it might get built anyway, if Taseko and a pair of Cariboo-area politicians get their way.
Conservative Cariboo-Prince George MP Dick Harris and Liberal Cariboo-Chilcotin MLA Donna Barnett were quick to condemn the report.
"You and I know its impossible to build a mine without some adverse effects," Barnett said. "With any mine, any project, it's how you mitigate those effects and whether the environmental impacts are acceptable when those key factors are mitigated."
The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency report clearly states that Taseko's proposed mitigation wouldn't work and the environmental impacts would be unacceptable and irreversible.
"I'm absolutely disappointed with the panel's report and have some serious questions about some of their assertions," Harris said.
What questions, exactly? There is 323 pages of exhaustively-technical answers in the report.
Perhaps they are about the same alleged mistakes Taseko vice-president Brian Battison said his company vows to find.
"...Taseko expressed a number of concerns about the fairness of the process and will be reviewing the report carefully against those concerns," a statement by the company added.
In other words, "We didn't get the answer we want, so obviously something is wrong with the process."
Harris and Barnett are clearly looking at the project through a thick lens of ideology, rather than listening to the experts who actually understand the facts.
If the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency panel had been in favour of the mine, undoubtably Taseko, Harris and Barnett would be singing the praises of the report and the process.
But in fairness, if the agency report had been in favour of the mine, it's likely that members of the Tsilhqotin, B.C. NDP and environmental groups would be the ones saying the process is unfair, First Nations weren't adequately consulted, the process is biased towards approvals, etc.
In both the case of the proposed New Prosperity mine and Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline opponents and proponents have already made up their minds and have no interest in changing them, regardless of the facts.
British Columbians and Canadians need to demand their governments listen to the scientists and experts they pay to advise them.
That means rejecting Taseko again, despite the potential loss of jobs and tax revenue.
It also means that when the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency issues its report on the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway this year, politicians need to put aside the rhetoric and blind ideology and listen to the facts - especially if they aren't the ones they hoped to hear.
-- Associate news editor Arthur Williams