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Strategic Interventions of an RCE in Environmental Assessment, RCE Saskatchewan, Canada


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Regional RCE Americas Meeting 2016 "Renewable Energy and Sustainable Education"

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Strategic Interventions of an RCE in Environmental Assessment, RCE Saskatchewan, Canada

  1. 1. STRATEGIC INTERVENTIONS OF AN RCE IN EVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT THE CASE OF THE YANCOAL POTASH MINE IN SASKATCHEWAN, CANADA 5TH RCE CONFERENCE OF THE AMERICAS CURITIBA, BRAZIL, OCT. 21, 2016 (10:15-10:45 AM) Roger A. Petry, Co-coordinator RCE Saskatchewan & Associate Professor of Philosophy, Luther College Note: many slides contributed by the Havelock Special Projects Committee and RCE SK Sustainable Infrastructure Working group
  2. 2. PRESENTATION OVERVIEW 1. RCE Saskatchewan Projects 2. Context of Yancoal Proposal (Geographic, Economic, Regulatory, Ecological) 1. Initial Community Response 2. Engagement of RCE SK (Local, Provincial, Federal) 3. Where we are today
  5. 5. RCE SASKATCHEWAN FLAGSHIP PROJECTS (SEE GLOBAL RCE PORTAL 2016 REPORT)  Saskatchewan Ecomuseum Initiative (SEI;  Sustainability and Education Policy Network (SEPN;  Voluntary Sector Studies Network (VSSN;  Reducing Pesticide Use: Plant Health Care Model  RCE SK ESD Recognition Event (
  6. 6. PROPOSED YANCOAL SOUTHEYPOTASH MINE: RCE SK ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT ASSESSMENT INTERVENTION Mineral Resources in Saskatchewan (Source: Encyclopedia of Saskatchewan)
  7. 7. SASKATCHEWAN AND POTASH  Share of World Potash Reserves: Canada (46%), Russia (35%), Belarus (8%), Brazil (3%), China (2%)
  8. 8. ECONOMIC CONTEXT Saskatchewan economy adversely impacted by decline in resource prices  Oil: low prices and transportation cost  Potash: low prices and erosion of marketing monopoly  Agriculture Loss of Canadian Wheat Board: lower price for farmers and increased transportation costs
  9. 9. ECONOMIC CONTEXT Province struggling financially:  Clawback of committed funds last year  Budget and financial update not presented during spring 2016 election Promoting “SK Advantage” (Low tax, low regulatory environment, pro- traditional resource dev’t)
  10. 10. YANCOAL SOUTHEY POTASH MINE PROPOSAL  Yancoal: state-owned company of the Government of China   Proposal to build a solution potash mine  Extract 2.8 million tonnes of potash/year for 100 years (Yancoal Environmental Impact Study (EIS), 003EISMainDocument, p. E-6)  2200 f.t.e. workers/year during construction; 350 ongoing operations (EIS E-11)
  11. 11. SK REGULATORY ENVIRONMENT  Specific Projects Traditionally Reviewed by Canada Environmental Impact Assessment Act  Prime Minister Stephen Harper in 2012 seeks to fast-track development  Many EIA become a provincial responsibility even for large projects (like a potash mine)  2015 SaskWater “pre-applies” for water use permits even prior to projects known by communities
  13. 13. ENVIRONMENTAL CONSIDERATIONS: WATER, WATER, WATER… Diefenbaker Lake: Water Storage from Rocky Mountains/Glacial Melt
  14. 14. Inflow of water to Lake Diefenbaker (source of Buffalo Pound water) declined ~30% over 100 years Lake source: Prairie Provinces Water Board (courtesy David Sauchyn) Volume(dam3)
  15. 15. Saskatchewan Aquifers
  16. 16. Yancoal Exploration Campaign (2013-2014) TIMELINE OF DEVELOPMENT Yancoal Offers to Purchase Land (Jan – March 2014) Yancoal Poster Board Info Sessions (March 2015) Yancoal Submits EIS to Ministry (Summer 2015) Yancoal Hires Community Relations Officer (October 2015) Community/RM Demand Public Forum/ Meeting (July 2015) Land Owners Request Formal Meeting Yancoal DECLINES (March 2014) Yancoal Attends RM Meetings (September 2015) HSPC Formed (September 2015) RM Hires Professional Services (December 2015) Yancoal Opens Local Office (January 2016) Community Lead Info Session (January 2016) 2013 2014 2015 2016
  17. 17. SITE OF PROPOSED YANCOAL-SOUTHEY POTASH MINE Havelock: a thriving agricultural community Within 5 miles of proposed core facility:  326 people, including 80 children  129 family farms  Wildlife, including burrowing owls, ducks, fish, and large game 12 family farms within 1 mile of core facility 3 miles from proposed core facility
  18. 18. IMPACT ON AREA RESIDENTS: YOUNG FAMILIES WITH HIGH POPULATION DENSITY (FOR RURAL SK!) Population Count = 129 Homes within 5 miles = 326 People (Red Dot = 1 family farm) Strasbourg Grid # 6 Highway
  19. 19. AREA RESIDENTS EXPRESS CONCERNS Havelock Community Hall, May 11, 2016
  20. 20. RESIDENTS’ KEY CONCERNS 1. Lack of participatory engagement with those directly impacted 2. Impact on drinking water sources– use of Buffalo Pound water and drilling through and under Hatfield Aquifer 3. Salt spray contamination of surrounding land and downstream water 4. Lack of adequate study and planning on impacts and development of contingency plans
  21. 21. 1. LACK OF PARTICIPATORY PUBLIC ENGAGEMENT BY YANCOAL  never hosted participatory meetings with impacted residents, only come-and-go poster presentations. Participatory meetings hosted only by the RM and volunteers.  RM of Longlaketon received no assistance from the province with evaluation of the proposal.  no partnership created with those most impacted in community  First contact with individual farmers included offers to purchase land; requirement to respond within 10 days and sign a confidentiality agreement.
  22. 22. 2. IMPACT ON DRINKING WATER  0.5 cubic metres of fresh water per second drawn from Buffalo Pound Lake for coming 100 years.  Source of water for capital city of Regina (Pop. 260,000)  Equivalent to approx. ½ water use of City of Regina (Pop. 260,000)  No other water sources researched, including non-potable water from Quill Lakes  Contamination risk to the Hatfield Aquifer, source of pristine drinking water to farms and communities. Mine requires drilling through and beneath the aquifer.
  23. 23. 3. SALT SPRAY CONTAMINATION  40 – 80 meter salt pile will spray salt to the surrounding area negatively impacting human, animal, soil, farmland and plant health  Loon Creek, major tributary to Pasqua Lake, is 3 miles from the proposed tailing ponds and will be impacted by salt and other contaminants. I love my lake I love the Qu’Appelle River Valley
  24. 24. Photo: White = waste salts from Mosaic Potash mine salt pile Mosaic mine site 2011 5 km SALT SPRAY CONTAMINATION
  25. 25. 4. LACK OF ADEQUATE STUDY & PLANNING  Lack of detail on project design, monitoring in contingency planning in the case of contamination of water and soil  Lack of federal impact study. Prior to 2012, a project of this size would have triggered a comprehensive study under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. Mention of potash mines was eliminated from this Act in 2012.  Lack of demonstrated commitment to sustainable practices – poor understanding of impact on fish, wildlife, water, land, air, traffic and public safety, heritage and culture
  26. 26. FURTHER STUDY NEEDED: SINKING (SUBSIDENCE) OF LAND  Sinking (Subsidence) of land will cause changes to water drainage, structural damage to existing buildings and use of land.  Planning required to address/mitigate impacts  Written commitments needed to give landowners reassurance they will not lose property value or have buildings damaged as a result of subsidence.
  28. 28.
  29. 29. SAFETY CONCERN FOR SCHOOL BUS ROUTES Strasbourg Grid Yancoal Proposed Route # 6 Highway
  30. 30. LOCAL RCE INVOLVEMENT  Local RCE Flagship Project (CLEM Ecomuseum) connects with Havelock community reps.  Facilitation of meeting of local Havelock community defining vision of development (May 2016)  Major contributions to community submission to provincial Yancoal EIA (June 2016)  Technical Background of Environmental Assessment Legislation  Investigation of Yancoal record in China
  31. 31. DEVELOPMENT OF COMMUNITY VIDEO Video for various audiences (August 2016) Includes Prime Minister of Canada, Hon. Justin Trudeau See: de/2583
  32. 32. ADDITIONAL RCE SK CONCERNS Company experience in coal mining  would be first potash mine Problematic environmental record of parent company mine site remediation in China Illegal surveillance of employees of parent company in Australia
  34. 34. A SUSTAINABLE COMMUNITY MEANS:  Strong public consultation and engagement with those directly impacted. We should have been consulted first.  Responses to concerns raised.  Best practice from corporations and government regulators  Support from government for RM in dealing with Yancoal. Not hands off. Comments from meeting participants, May 11, 2016, Havelock Community Centre Third Generation Farmer I love my family, my land, my lifestyle. Lived here since 1961.
  35. 35. A SUSTAINABLE COMMUNITY MEANS: • Truth and transparency • Public dialogue • No confidentiality agreements • Protection of quality of life • Trust that regulatory agencies are on the side of people as much as business Comments from meeting participants, May 11, 2016, Havelock Community Centre I love where I live and my family has always lived #Love where I live
  36. 36. SUSTAINABLE COMMUNITY MEANS:  Local communities not bearing the burden of provincial development alone  Fair planning and compensation  Prevention of problems rather than acceptance of high levels of risk and reactive responses  Best research. Is drilling over top of an aquifer safe? Comments from meeting participants, May 11, 2016, Havelock Community Centre Born March 2016 5th Generation Farmer I love my farmI care!! I love raising my family on our farm Love the farm life
  37. 37. SUSTAINABLE COMMUNITY MEANS  Water is sacred and not to be compromised.  Specific data, not “we think...”  Community investments to offset impacts in upstream, downstream & surrounding residences and communities.  Outline environmental benefits, not just impacts.  Goal is sustainable communities. Mining needs to contribute to that. Comments from meeting participants, May 11, 2016, Havelock Community Centre Havelock Matters Standing for my values Water is precious I like my farm !!!
  38. 38. PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT ENGAGEMENT RCE SK provides response to Government of SK call for submissions (June, 2016)  Identifies deficiencies and asks key questions  Rapid response with academic input RCE makes formal request for Inquiry by Minister of Environment under EIA Act  Ministry denies request
  39. 39. PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT ENGAGEMENT (CONTINUED) Ministry provides conditional project approval (August 2016)  RCE Saskatchewan provides analysis of weaknesses of conditions and overall approach Provincial Minister of Environment and Minister of Economic Development resign within 2 days of announcement
  40. 40. ENGAGEMENT WITH GOVERNMENT OF CANADA/FEDERAL GOVERNMENT  RCE SK shares all documents with Federal Ministry of Environment and Climate Change in Ottawa  RCE appeals under Federal Act to apply Environmental Impact Assessment to Project  Seeks a Cumulative Impacts Assessment  RCE SK letter provides formal trigger for Government of Canada to consider review of project
  41. 41. WHERE ARE WE NOW?  Local: Havelock Community awaiting results of Local Elections in Rural Municipality (RM), Oct. 26, 2016  RM awaiting reimbursement of $24,000 from Yancoal  Seeking to create “pushback bylaw” from residences  Conducting baseline radiation study of area  Provincial: Havelock Community meets with new Provincial Minister of Environment  Provincial Government commitment to respect Yancoal negotiations with local RM (if done in good faith); can’t/won’t mandate agreement  Federal: Awaiting Federal Government decision on whether to conduct EIA
  42. 42. WHERE TO GET MORE DETAILS  Facebook – Havelock Special Projects Committee  Twitter: @HSPCommittee  Environmental Impact Assessment  Yancoal web site:  RCE Saskatchewan Documentation with two levels of government:  RCE/Havelock Video: