BAT and BAP.
If you’re around resource industries these days, you’ve probably heard those terms a lot. The acronyms stand for “best available technology” and “best available practices.”
In the wake of an independent engineer’s report into the failure of the Mount Polley tailings pond last summer, BAT and BAP are being batted around with great abandon.
Mines Minister Bill Bennett said that “government will act immediately on key recommendations” contained in the engineer’s report. The recommendations, however, contained enough wriggle room for both the government and Mount Polley to squeeze a couple million gallons of sludge through.
The engineers recommended that: “BAT should be actively encouraged for new tailings facilities at existing and proposed mines … BAT principles should be applied to closure of active impoundments so that they are progressively removed from the inventory by attrition. “
Notice the use of the word “should” rather than “must.”
And that is the problem. Best available technology and best available practices sound impressive when talking about such developments. It invokes images of everything being the “best” that it can be. And, in many cases, it probably is.
However, it is still a practice of relying on industry to set regulatory standards, not government.
Best available practice, for government, should be to set the standards for industrial projects and have industry either meet those standards or not proceed. That, however, would involve having inspectors, something this government seems philosophically opposed to.