Alaska raises concerns with B.C.’s mining oversight after audit – by Justine Hunter (Globe and Mail – May 5, 2016)

VICTORIA — Six months after signing a pact to co-operate on mine development across the B.C.-Alaska border, the Alaskan government is questioning British Columbia’s ability to protect the environment due to weak enforcement of its mining industry.

Alaska Lieutenant-Governor Byron Mallott says his government will demand assurances that British Columbia is taking action in the wake of a new report from the province’s Auditor-General that calls for the creation of an independent agency to take over regulation of the mining industry because of lax enforcement and compliance.

“The Office of the Auditor-General’s report is troubling and a wake-up call to the B.C. government that important changes must occur,” Mr. Mallott, who has led the state government’s negotiations with British Columbia on the issue of mining, said in a statement.

Auditor-General Carol Bellringer concluded that the B.C. government has put its economic interest in promoting the mining industry ahead of environmental regulation: “We found almost every one of our expectations for a robust compliance and enforcement program … were not met,” she wrote.

B.C. Energy and Mines Minister Bill Bennett says he is committed to improving regulation, but stopped short of accepting the Auditor-General’s recommendation for independent oversight.

Alaskan officials have pressed for some say over mining development to protect rivers, watersheds and fisheries that are downstream of B.C. mining projects.

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