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B.C. rescinds environmental assessment exemption

04/16/2014 08:17 EDT | Updated 06/16/2014 05:59 EDT
In a stunning about-face, Environment Minister Mary Polak has rescinded the environmental assessment exemption for prospective all-season ski resorts and sweet natural gas processing plants only a day after it was announced.

In a written statement, Polak acknowledges First Nations were not adequately consulted about the proposed change prior to her Tuesday announcement.

The order would have exempted prospective year-round ski resorts and new sweet natural gas plants in B.C. from the Environmental Assessment process.

Polak said the decision was made in order to eliminate the duplication created by a similar environmental assessment process within the Ministry of Forests and Lands.

First Nations reacted angrily to Tuesday's announcement.

Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs Grand Chief Stewart Philip said the government had "effectively declared war on all BC First Nations and jeopardized all LNG discussions throughout the entire Province of BC."

He branded the decision, "a stunningly stupid move."

In her statement, Polak apologizes for the oversight.

"I would like to acknowledge First Nations' concerns about amendments to the Reviewable Projects Regulation under the Environmental Assessment Act. Our government apologizes for failing to discuss the amendment with First Nations prior to its approval."

Polak says the government will not proceed with the regulatory change until First Nations have been consulted. She says the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers has also been made aware of the decision.

Correction : This story has been corrected to indicate the new order does not exempt the Jumbo Glacier Resort and the Garibaldi proposals from existing environmental review requirements.(Apr 16, 2014 3:50 PM)

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