GreenGov
February 14, 2013

Environmental regulations falling behind resource development, commissioner says

In his final report to Parliament after five years on the job, Scott Vaughan –  Canada’s commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development – claims that the aggressive development of natural resources is limiting conservation efforts.

He reports that there aren’t enough tabs being kept on mining, drilling, and hydraulic fracturing in the North, the Atlantic, and cross-country, in many cases because regulators simply do not have the resources available to monitor the increased traffic.

This follows previous reports that question whether there is enough oversight of pipelines and the oil sands to ensure Canada’s environment is not at risk.

Instead, government regulators are grasping to cope with changes to environmental legislation and the impact of these on outdated requirements. Many are unsure of where their responsibilities lie and where to find the information that they require.

Vaughan claims that what needs to be happening is for environmental regulation and resource development to be working hand in hand. Instead, the two are working in opposition to one another, or with “environmental protection trying to catch up.”

This could mean a public relations disaster for public sector departments concerned with regulation in the event of an oil-spill or similar disaster. Additionally, the regulations, concerning financial allocations in case of accident, are not consistently up to date, and all taxpayers could end up paying the price for a commercial disaster. 

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