Lack of consultation and refusal to listen leads to court action
NDP Leader Lorraine Michael (MHA, Signal Hill-Quidi Vidi) says the Nunatsiavut government has been forced into asking for a judicial review because both the federal and provincial governments have refused to take their concerns seriously.
Nunatsiavut, along with the NunatuKavut Community Council, filed applications to get a judicial review of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans decision to grant permission to Nalcor to create a Muskrat Falls reservoir. DFO’s decision follows the federal government’s deferral to the province on the issue of clearcutting, and the province’s refusal to follow the recommendation of the panel reviewing the project.
The Lower Churchill Joint Review Panel recommended that Nalcor be required to clearcut the area before flooding it. Clearcutting lessens the amount of mercury that accumulates. The provincial government’s response to this recommendation was to support partial harvesting of the flood zone; they would consider following the recommendation only “if an economic opportunity to use the resource materializes.”
Michael says this approach demonstrates much of what is wrong with the way the Muskrat Falls project is being developed. “The provincial government and Nalcor insist on proceeding with this multi-billion dollar project regardless of any concerns that are raised,” she said. “The Joint Review Panel, the Public Utilities Board, the Government of Nunatsiavut – all these valid concerns have been brushed aside in the rush to build the Muskrat Falls generating station.”
The NDP leader first raised the question of mercury contamination in a radio debate in February 2012 and has yet to receive a satisfactory answer.
“By refusing to seriously address the issue, our government has forced Nunatsiavut – another sovereign government, it must be pointed out – to apply to federal court in hopes of satisfaction,” said Michael today. “Their blind pursuit of the Muskrat development, and their refusal to listen or consult, may actually be threatening the project they hold so dear.”