The relationship between environmental agreements and environmental impact assessment follow-up in Saskatchewan's uranium industry
Birk, Jasmine Angie
Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is a planning process used to predict, assess, mitigate, and monitor the potential environmental and social impacts that may be associated with a proposed development project. Essential to the efficacy of EIA is follow-up - a post-decision process that attempts to understand EIA outcomes and provides feedback on project development and learning processes to improve environmental management practices. While considerable literature on follow-up related themes exists, the actual implementation and engagement of all stakeholders involved with follow-up in post-consent decision stages lacks or is not done well. That being said, in northern Canada, and in the mining sector in general, much of this post-decision activity is occurring under a new institutional arrangement: privatized community-industry Environmental Agreements and associated community-based monitoring programs. Based on a case study of follow-up in northern Saskatchewan’s uranium mining industry, this thesis examines both the institutional development of EIA follow-up and the role and contribution of community-based Environmental Agreements to EIA follow-up and impact management practices. This thesis adopted a manuscript-style format; both utilized a combined methodology of document review and semi-structured interviews. The first manuscript focuses on the institutional development of follow-up in the northern Saskatchewan uranium mining industry, giving context to the current situation. Results demonstrate that follow-up in Saskatchewan’s uranium industry has transformed and is characterized by four themes ranging from little or no follow-up to a new system that now includes a participatory yet privatized process based on privatized agreements. Results suggest that follow-up has evolved to a current emphasis on environmental management incorporating a ‘community-centric’ approach, recognition of socioeconomic issues in monitoring programs, and an increased community and industry presence in follow-up and monitoring activities. The second manuscript examines the nature and scope of the northern Saskatchewan uranium industry’s Environmental Agreement and its potential role in EIA follow-up. Results indicate that although privatized Environmental Agreements and community-led monitoring programs complement and supplement formal EIA follow-up processes and contribute to environmental management practices, they do not have the capacity to replace EIA follow-up. Results from this thesis advance current knowledge and understanding of the evolution of EIA follow-up and the current role and contribution of privatized agreements to post-decision follow-up and impact management practices.
DegreeMaster of Science (M.Sc.)
SupervisorNoble, Bram F.
Environmental Impact Assessment Follow-up