The Federal Budget Bill, Bill C-38, dramatically cuts down federal
The existing Canadian Environmental Assessment Act
is revoked and replaced by a new, much more limited assessment
regime. It will apply only to projects specifically chosen for
review by the federal Minister of Environment or Cabinet. All
automatic triggers for federal EA are eliminated. The federal
assessment of "cumulative effects" has bee
The only purpose of the new assessments will be to identify
"significant adverse environmental effects
that fall within the legislative authority of
Parliament, or that are directly linked or necessarily
incidental to a federal authority's exercise of a power or
performance of a duty or function that is required for the carrying
out of the project."
Even then, the federal assessment can be delegated to a
province, or waived if another jurisdiction has an
"equivalent" process. And the EA process must be
completed "within applicable time limits". If a federal
EA does proceed, there will be some form of public participation,
participant funding, a public registry, and some form of followup
on the conditions imposed.
The largest federal authorities that have made it hard to
approve resource projects are fisheries and endangered species.
Both areas will now be made easier for project proponents.
Fisheries protection will be limited to commercial, recreational
and Aboriginal fisheries, and permits to harm endangered species
will be issued quicker, last longer and be easier to renew.
In total, resource project proponents should find it quicker,
easier and cheaper to get permission to build what they want, with
far less interference from the federal government, or those pesky
environmental groups. The courts will eventually tell us whether
they can so easily dispose of opposition from First Nations.
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