The government recently announced the members it has
appointed to the Review of the Environmental Assessment Process
Expert Panel (the "EA Panel"), created to examine how
environmental federal environmental assessments are conducted for
large-scale resource projects.
The federal government has been under pressure from
environmental groups and First Nation governments following a
series of significant changes to Canada's environmental
protection regime, including to the process for assessing
large-scale resource projects. These changes were introduced by the
prior Conservative government through two omnibus bills in 2012.
Among other effects, these changes reduced environmental oversight
over such projects so as to make the process more streamlined.
According to its terms of reference, the EA Panel's
mandate is linked to the Minister of Environment and Climate
Change's mandate to review the environmental assessment process
to "regain public trust and help get resources to market and
introduce new, fair processes" that will, among other things,
ensure meaningful participation. The EA Panel will engage broadly
with the Canadian public, including indigenous group, and its work
will include as yet unspecified consultation opportunities for
The creation of a National Energy Board (NEB) Modernization
Expert Panel (the "NEB Panel") has also been announced by the Minister of Natural
Resources. The NEB Panel will focus on "modernizing" the
NEB by examining its structure, role, and mandate. This process,
too, will involve stakeholder engagement. It does not appear as
though panel members have been appointed as yet.
Additional reviews, by way of Parliamentary committee, will be
conducted of both fish habitat protection and navigation protection. The 2012 omnibus bills
made significant changes to both of these regimes, weakening
environmental protections in the process.
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