On February 25, 2015, the Québec Minister of Sustainable
Development, Environment and the Fight against Climate Change, Mr.
David Heurtel, announced a significant reform in relation to the
environmental authorization process set forth under the
Québec Environment Quality Act
Adopted in 1972, the EQA is the main environmental statute in
the Province of Québec. While various aspects of this law
have been modified since its inception, the authorization process
has remained largely untouched in the last 30 years. The Minister
is now proposing to reform this process through various
The Minister proposes to modulate the environmental
authorization process based on the level of environmental risk
associated with each project:
Projects representing low and negligible environmental risks
would be subject to a simplified process;
The authorization process applicable to projects with moderate
or high environmental risks will be reviewed in depth. The specific
changes proposed in this regard have not yet been disclosed but may
include modifications to the existing environmental impact
assessment procedure and the BAPE public hearing process;
The EQA will be amended to increase accountability on the part
of the Ministry, in particular with respect to administrative
delays associated with the issuance of environmental
The cost of the environmental assessment process will be
further internalized (which will presumably result in increased
costs for the issuance of environmental authorizations);
Additional measures will be proposed to expand disclosure of
environmental information to the public; and
Climate change issues and sustainable development principles
would need to be considered specifically as part of the
environmental authorization process.
In March and April 2015, the Minister will consult certain
environmental, institutional and economic organizations to discuss
the proposed reform, followed by the tabling of a policy document
(green book) at the National Assembly in spring 2015.
Consultations on this proposal are then likely to be held in
parliamentary commission. The Minister intends to table a bill with
the National Assembly in fall 2015, with the objective that the new
environmental authorization process be effective in 2016.
In parallel, the minister also announced that the Act
Respecting Compensation Measures for the Carrying out of Projects
Affecting Wetlands or Bodies of Water, which is set to expire
in April 2015, will be extended for another 3 years in order to
continue consultations on this issue.
It remains to be seen whether the Minister will succeed in his
efforts to modernize the EQA. If this announcement is indeed
translated into law, the proposed reform could have a significant
impact on both existing and future industrial, natural resources
and energy projects in Québec. In this context, we strongly
encourage interested parties to monitor and participate in the
upcoming debates regarding the Minister's proposed reform.
Canada is a constitutional monarchy, a parliamentary democracy and a federation comprised of ten provinces and three territories. Canada's judiciary is independent of the legislative and executive branches of Government.
The Government of Alberta recently announced a number of policy changes that will impact the Alberta Electricity Market, composed of its generators, transmitters, distributors, retailers, electricity consumers and wholesale electricity market.
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