The Government of Canada has announced five "interim"
principles to guide the review of a number of major resource
projects while it undertakes a broader review of the federal
environmental assessment (EA) process.1 On January 27,
2016, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change Catherine
McKenna and the Minister of Natural Resources Jim Carr announced
that the interim measures are intended to restore public trust and
provide greater certainty in the EA process. The five principles
The views of the public and affected
communities will be sought and considered;
Indigenous Peoples will be consulted
and their rights and interests accommodated;
Both direct and upstream greenhouse
gas (GHG) emissions of projects under review will be assessed;
Decisions will be based on science,
traditional Indigenous knowledge and other relevant evidence;
No project proponent will be asked to
return to the starting line - project reviews will continue within
the current legislative framework and in accordance with treaty
provisions, under the auspices of relevant responsible authorities
and Northern regulatory boards.
A number of major projects are currently under review and will
continue within the current legislative framework. However, in
order to incorporate the new interim principles in the review of
two contentious pipeline projects, the Government is extending
deadlines for review and decision:
A four-month extension to make its
decision on the Trans Mountain Expansion Project for increasing the
capacity of the oil pipeline running from Edmonton to Burnaby, BC;
A nine-month extension for the review
and decision on the Energy East Project, which would carry crude
oil from Alberta and Saskatchewan to delivery points in Quebec and
The delays are intended to allow the government to undertake
"deeper consultation with Indigenous Peoples", including
providing funding to support consultations, and to consider the two
projects' upstream GHG emissions. The Government of Canada
plans to appoint a Ministerial Representative to engage communities
affected by the Trans Mountain Project. For the Energy East
Project, the federal Government hopes to facilitate increased
public participation in the NEB review. The Ministers stated that
ultimately it will be the Cabinet that decides whether the two
pipeline projects and other major energy projects are in the
The interim set of principles is the first step in a much
broader review of the federal environmental regulatory regime.
During last summer's election campaign, the Liberals promised
to restore robust oversight to federal environmental reviews,
increase opportunities for meaningful participation, work closely
with Indigenous Peoples, end political interference, assess
upstream GHG emissions, and require the use of best available
technology in projects.3 The Liberals also pledged to
restore lost environmental protections with the review of extensive
changes the Conservatives had made to the Fisheries Act
and the Navigable Waters Protection Act – an Act
that was replaced by the Navigation Protection Act.
Yesterday, Minister McKenna commented that the broader review would
likely take a number of years to complete.
In an upcoming article, we will examine the issues that are
likely to be considered in the broader review of Canada's
environmental assessment process.
Ontario's Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change continues to roll out its Climate Change Action Plan with its proposed GHG guide for projects that are subject to the province's Environmental Assessment Act.
The Imperial Oil refinery pled guilty to one offence for discharging a contaminant, coker stabilizer, thermocracked gas, into the natural environment causing an adverse effect and was fined $650,000...
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