Towards Financial Responsibility
The Polluter Pays Principle
In May 2016, we saw the publication of the Towards Financial Responsibility Report, commissioned by the Union of British Columbia (BC) Indian Chiefs, author Robyn Allan, Economist.
This report very much echoes the findings of the BC Auditor General Report. The main purpose of the report is to identify weaknesses in the BC Environmental Financial Assurances
The main emphasis is on the Risk and Cost of mining in BC. The BC Government uses a Polluter Pays Principle, with no system to make it effective or having any financial assurances. "How can a mining company be accountable when the polluter pays principle is not enforced". Currently it is estimated the the cost of reclamation is under funded by $1.3 billion ( as of 31st March 2014). The 1969 BC Mines Act states that, " the BC people not bear the costs of mine reclamation". Equally environmental risk of unexpected events is increasing because of the size and number of tailings storage facilities (TSF).
If a company has financial difficulties under the Company Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA), the BC Government may not have access to the financial security it thinks it has.
The report recommends
1. Requirement of full security for mine site reclamation costs
2. Introduce financing assurances for unexpected environmental harm events
3. Establish an industry funded pool
4. Establish a claims settlement process
5. Introduce transparency and accountability.
This reports outlines the reactive nature to environmental management. It considers the Environmental Management Amendment - Bill 21-2016 and states that the bill basically covers an emergency situation, but is not proactive in its responses. It comments that the bill is "not world leading or even nation leading".
Expert Engineers commissioned by the BC Government warned that two TSF's breaches could happen every ten years, with an 87% probability of at least one very decade.
Actually The Polluter Pays Principle should be
" The polluter ends up paying only if they are willing and able to do so"
See pages 39 to 42 for the main points