The Conservation Council New Brunswick Action is pushing for explanations from Environment Minister Margaret-Ann Blaney about why the province has broken its own regulations on wetlands protection.
The council claims that at least 16 wetlands are no longer considered wetlands, and could be opened up for development with no environmental scrutiny and no environment assessment needed.
The council said the minister is now relieving developers of their legal obligations under the Clean Water Act and the Clean Environment Act.
"It doesn't make any sense to us, in particular when no amendments were forth coming on the legislation, there was no order-in-council to change the regulations. So it made no sense to us," said David Coon, the executive director for the council.
The change occurred when a Department of Resources map was released in March, identifying the 16 sites that are no longer considered wetlands.
Coon said the environment minister is exceeding her authority by allowing these changes without consultation.
"Well … that's certainly not the case. I don't think I am exceeding my authority as minister," said Blaney.
Blaney said the problem lies with the definition of a wetland.
Right now, the New Brunswick laws are based on an American military description and she said that bothers her.
"Where do you get the criteria for a wetland? Well, we get it from the U.S. army. Is that the right fit for New Brunswick?" Blaney said. "I don't know, but that's certainly one of the issues that we really need to talk about."
The province wants to talk with groups like the conservation council on defining wetlands in the province.
Consultation will be begin May 25.
In the meantime, Blaney said she'd look into the 16 sites to see what happened.