The BC Environmental Assessment Office (BC EAO) and
the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA)
announced today that they have entered into a Memorandum
of Understanding (the "MOU") on the substitution
of environmental assessments for single projects and for classes of
designated projects, and the coordination of Aboriginal
consultation on such projects. Substitution means the
substitution of the provincial process for the federal
process while still requiring two separate decisions by the
BC Minister of Environment and the Federal Minister of
Environment. It does not involve the implemetation of
an equivalent process.
The MOU establishes the timing and process for determining
whether substitution is suitable for a
project, procedures for delegating Aboriginal
consultation, and the requirements for substitution. A
process may be initiated by the BC EAO on written
notice to First Nations, the public and stakeholders, of its
decision to request approval from the Federal Minister for a
substituted process pursuant to the Canadian Environmental
Assessment Act, 2012. Once initiated, the next step
is for the BC EAO to contact the Federal Minister of
Environment (Canada) to request substitution for an
environmental assessment pursuant to the MOU. If
approved, the BC EAO will conduct the environmental assessment and
Aboriginal consutlation and prepare a report for consideration by
the Federal Minister of Environment (Canada) and the BC Minister of
Environment. If the project is not approved for review under a
substituted process, the Parties may enter
into discussions to arrange a cooperative assessment or
joint review panel.
The primary purposes of the MOU are to provide for a
more timely and efficient environmental assessment process and to
avoid duplication and the costs, often associated
with cooperative and/or concurrent processes. The MOU
came into effect on March 6, 2013 and there are already two
projects approved for substitution: the Carbon Creek Coal Mine and
Sukunka Coal projects.
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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