Environmental Emergency Cuts

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The Federal conservatives are re-shaping how the environment department will respond to catastrophes such as oil-spills. From the Atlantic coast, all the way to Vancouver --and points in between-- emergency response personnel are being slashed in half, the rest are being relocated to Quebec. Critics say Ottawa is abandoning its environmental responsibility. We hear from some of them, as well as from Environment Minister Peter Kent, who says these cost savings will have no impact on the nation's ability to cope with an oil spill disaster.


Part Two of The Current

Environmental Emergency Cuts - Seabird Biologist

Over the next few years, new rivers of oil could be running across western Canada and along the Pacific Coast. Kinder Morgan Energy wants to nearly triple the amount of oil flowing through its pipeline between Alberta and B.C. And if the Northern Gateway pipeline gets the go-ahead, there will be more oil tankers docking and filling up along BC's northern coast. Even a cursory glance at the news media over the last few years will tell you a lot about how well oil and water mix -- or oil and coast line -- or oil and land.

The Federal Government is cutting the number of people responsible for dealing with environmental emergencies including oil spills. Environment Minister Peter Kent says the Environmental Emergencies Program will function just fine with a reduced staff and without six of its regional offices, including ones in Vancouver and St. John's.

Ian Jones isn't convinced. He is a seabird biologist at Memorial University and he was in our St. John's studio.

Environmental Emergency Cuts - Environment Minister

Karen Wristen believes closing some of the Environmental Emergency regional offices may be a real problem if there's ever a crisis. She's the Executive Director of the Living Oceans Society based in Sointula, on British Columbia's central coast. We heard from her.

Peter Kent is Canada's Environment Minister and he was in Ottawa.

This segment was produced by CBC St. John's producer, Heather Barrett.


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