On June 7, 2016, Quebec's Minister of Sustainable
Development, Environment and the Fight against Climate Change,
David Heurtel, tabled Bill 102 (Bill), which proposes to
significantly amend the Environment Quality Act (EQA),
including modernizing the environmental approval regime. The Bill
follows the publication of a green paper by the minister in the
winter of 2015 and public hearings held before the National
Assembly. For further information on the green paper, please see
our February 2015 Blakes Bulletin: Quebec Environment Minister Aims to Modernize
Environmental Approval Process.
This bulletin provides a brief overview of some of the key
modifications proposed by the Bill. A more detailed analysis of the
amendments will be the subject of a further bulletin.
Approval based on classification of environmental risk
— The Bill aims to simplify the environmental
approval process by classifying projects according to four
categories of environmental risk: high, moderate, low and
negligible risk. Activities considered to be of low risk and
negligible risk will be set out in a regulation. High-risk projects
will continue to be subject to the environmental assessment and
review procedure and moderate-risk projects will remain subject to
the obligation to obtain a ministerial authorization. For low-risk
activities, it is planned that the proponent will only be required
to file a declaration of compliance with environmental laws and may
begin its activities 30 days after filing a declaration, which
would result in a reduction of delays for activities in this
category. Finally, activities with negligible risk will be exempt
from obtaining an authorization and any other filing.
Single type authorization for projects —
A single type of ministerial authorization will be required for a
given project, whereas currently, various types of authorizations
may be required.
Environmental impact assessment procedure
— The list of projects subject to the environmental
impact assessment and review procedure will be reviewed. The
government will also have the power, in exceptional circumstances,
to subject projects to the environmental impact and review
procedure that are not specifically listed, when such projects
present major environmental risks, for instance with respect to
climate change. This represents a significant change from the
current regime, which is based on a closed list. The public will
also have the opportunity to provide input early on in the project
development process, including making submissions to the minister
on issues that should be taken into account in the environmental
Transfer of authorizations — It will be
possible to transfer environmental authorizations by providing
prior notice to the ministry. Currently, ministry consent is
required to assign certificates of authorization in the context of
an asset transaction, which can take several weeks.
Access to information and transparency —
The Bill plans to increase the transparency and accessibility of
information that forms part of the environmental approval process.
It is proposed that ministry-issued authorizations and the majority
of documents incorporated by reference into the approval, as well
as information on low-risk projects that require a compliance
declaration will be made public in a registry accessible on the
ministry's website. An environmental assessment registry will
also be created, which will make information filed by a proponent
public when the documents are filed with the ministry.
Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions — The Bill
provides that a proponent of a project whose estimated GHG
emissions exceed a set threshold will be required to show that its
project is optimal from a GHG emission perspective and justify the
technology selected, the processes and the sources of energy that
will be used.
A more detailed bulletin on the amendments will be published
shortly and a conference at our offices on the amendments will be
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