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Young scientists throw down the gauntlet

by Mark Sabourin
EcoLog, 11/18/2016 11:00:00 AM

More than 1,700 young scientists and researchers from across Canada have signed an open letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and six of his Cabinet ministers calling for greater scientific rigour and transparency in environmental decision-making.

The November 15, 2016 letter comes as the federal government embarks on a series of reviews of some of its most important environmental tools: the Fisheries Act, the National Energy Board, and the environmental assessment process.

“We are concerned that current environmental assessments and regulatory decision-making processes lack scientific rigour, with significant consequences for the health and environment of all Canadians,” they say.

The letter makes five recommendations to rebuild public trust:

  • that existing and potential environmental impacts of projects be assessed – with methods, results, and interpretations rigorously peer-reviewed – by parties with arm’s-length relationships from proponents
  • that all information from environmental assessments be made permanently and publicly available; this would include raw data, but would exclude any information with national security implications
  • that cumulative environmental effects be comprehensively evaluated
  • that all meetings among interested individuals, organizations, stakeholders, and members of the decision-making process be made public, and that all parties publicly disclose any real, apparent, or potential conflicts-of-interest
  • that decision-making criteria be explicit, and that all decisions provide “a full, transparent, and cogent accounting of all the evidence presented, risks weighed, and alternatives considered.”

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