On February 29, 2016, British Columbia's Environment
Minister announced proposed amendments to the B.C.
Environmental Management Act (EMA). Bill 21 – Environmental Management Amendment
Act, 2016 received first reading in the Legislative Assembly
the same day. Many of the specific details relating to the changes
will be released later in updated regulations issued under the
The amendments follow more than three years of consultation with
government, industry, First Nations, environmental organizations,
and other groups. While the amendments are not expected to come
into force until early 2017, the Minister offered some hints as to
what can be expected in the new statute and regulations,
Requirements for implementing spill prevention plans,
contingency plans, response systems, and recovery;
Added requirements to provide restoration and reclamation
following a spill;
The certification of an organization that provides spill
preparedness and response services in B.C.; and
New offences and penalties, including fines ranging between
$300,000 and $400,000 and jail terms of up to six months.
The Minister stated that these amendments will assist companies
in meeting one of the five conditions necessary to obtain
B.C.'s support for heavy oil pipelines, which apply to the
Trans Mountain and Northern Gateway pipeline projects. These five
conditions are: (1) successful completion of the environmental
review process; (2) world-leading marine oil spill response,
prevention and recovery; (3) world-leading land oil spill response,
prevention, and recovery; (4) meeting the legal requirements of
Aboriginal and treaty rights and providing First Nations with
opportunities to participate; and (5) economic benefit to B.C. It
is expected that compliance with the amended EMA will
satisfy the third requirement of establishing a world-leading land
spill preparedness and response regime.
We will continue to monitor the changes to the EMA and
provide a further update when additional information is
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