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EAO to Compliance ex-Chairman O'Rourke: advise if you intend to proceed with the environmental assessment of Raven project

Shelley Murphy, BC Environmental Assessment Office, February 26 2016

James (Jim) O’Rourke, Chairman
Compliance Coal Corporation
Suite 550 - 800 West Pender Street
Vancouver BC V6C 2V6

Dear Mr. O’Rourke:

I am writing to you in follow up to the letter dated August 25, 2015, from Mr. Steve Ellis, then President and Chief Operating Officer of Compliance Coal Corporation (Compliance).

Mr. Ellis’ letter was in response to my letter of August 5, 2015, requesting that Compliance provide the following information so that the Environmental Assessment Office (EAO) could consider the appropriate next steps for the
environmental assessment (EA):

• An update on Compliance’s plan regarding the proposed Raven Underground Coal Mine (Raven);

• Whether Compliance was planning any specific consultation measures or alterations to its project plans for Raven to address the misinformation noted in Mr. Ellis’s March 2, 2015, letter withdrawing its Application from EAO review; and

• Compliance’s views on the continuation of the EA and its views on the advantages and disadvantages of reviewing key EA documents in light of current policy and practice.

The August 25, 2015, letter from Mr. Ellis did not specifically respond to these points, although Mr. Ellis did articulate his concerns with the EA process to date, and indicated that Compliance was considering its options.

In the absence of specific responses from Compliance, my understanding of the status of this EA is as follows. I invite Compliance to provide me with any additional information, or corrections and clarification to inform EAO’s considerations.

• The EA for Raven began in August 2009.

• The Application Information Requirements (AIR) was issued in June 2012.

• Since the AIR was issued, Compliance has taken steps to provide the information required. However, to date, Compliance has not provided an Application that EAO considers sufficiently addresses all of the information requirements set out by EAO. EAO has provided to Compliance a detailed list of the areas where information gaps remain.

• Since Compliance withdrew its second Application for an Environmental Assessment Certificate on March 2, 2015, EAO has not received any information from Compliance on its plans for Raven.

In the interests of ensuring a high quality and up to date assessment, EAO contacts proponents of inactive projects
and projects that have AIRs issued more than three years previously to confirm that they intend to proceed with the environmental assessment.  This allows EAO to update its project portfolio and also ensures proponents do not expend effort on resuming an assessment based on process or information requirements that are now out of date. 

Section 24(3) of the Act allows for the Executive Director or the Minister to terminate an EA if, after being requested to provide information in an application or at any other time in the EA, the proponent does not provide the information within the prescribed period.

A deadline of three years for response to information is set out under the Act in the Prescribed Time Limits Regulation.
If you wish to proceed with the environmental assessment of the Project, please provide a brief outline on when and how you intend to resume the process.  Please note that if the assessment is resumed, the process and procedure for the assessment will likely need to be updated to meet current requirements.

I would also like to make clear that any action taken has nothing to do with the merits or potential environmental effects associated with the Project.

Please contact me at your earliest convenience at 250-387-1447 or to advise me if you intend to proceed with the assessment. 

We will consider any information we receive within 30 days from the date of this letter in EAO’s decision on what action
to take to ensure that the assessment of the project does not proceed under out-of-date procedures. This may be requiring that key EA documents be reviewed and revised prior to any new Application being submitted to EAO, or termination of the EA.

For example, EAO may review and revise, as appropriate, the section 11 Order and the AIR to ensure that they are consistent with current policy and First Nations consultation obligations.

In the event the current EA is terminated and you decide to pursue the Project at some future date, you will be required to submit a new Project Description and associated fees.

In any scenario, EAO will work with you to determine what work already completed is still relevant and could be carried over to a new EA or to address updated requirements.

Yours truly,
Shelley Murphy
Executive Project Director


Rob Hajdu, Project Manager, Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency,
Chelsea Garside, Project Assessment Officer, Environmental Assessment Office,