This week, the federal government announced the
"Responsible Resource Development" plan as part of its
Economic Action Plan 2012. The plan is intended to create a more
predictable and timely federal environmental assessment
("EA") process as well as reduce duplication among
federal agencies and between the federal and provincial EA regimes.
The federal government has advanced an ambitious slate of changes
that will devolve significant powers to the provinces and restrict
various aspects of the current federal EA process. As well, the
federal government pledges that its changes will strengthen
environmental protection and enhance Aboriginal consultation.
Key aspects of the proposed plan include:
Predictable and Timely Environmental
Impose a 45-day time frame to establish any federal EA
"One project, one review": substitute federal EA with
equivalent provincial process
Establish two streams of federal EA: major and standard
(eliminating federal reviews of less significant projects)
Limit federal authorities responsible for EA processes to
Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, National Energy Board,
Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission
Establish binding timelines for federal government EA reviews:
12 months for standard reviews, 18 months for National Energy Board
reviews and 24 months for panel reviews
Greater use of regional environmental assessment, particularly
with respect to cumulative effects
Allow provincial jurisdiction with respect to fisheries and
delegate permitting authority under the federal Fisheries
Strengthening Environmental Protection
Introduce enforceable EA decisions with penalties for failure
Impose administrative monetary penalties for violations under
Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, National Energy
Impose enforceable standards under federal Fisheries
Act and Species at Risk Act permits
Enhancing Aboriginal Consultation
Better integrate Aboriginal consultations into federal EA and
Designate a single federal agency to coordinate Aboriginal
Legislation is to be proposed shortly to implement this vast
array of changes and is expected to significantly transform the
Canadian Environmental Assessment Act and the federal
environmental permitting process. Reducing EA and permitting
duplication and delays and clarifying Aboriginal consultation
processes are welcome changes for proponents and investors. We will
provide further updates on the new legislation.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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