On March 18, 2009, the federal government introduced regulatory
amendments under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act
("CEAA") to spur the development of infrastructure while
maintaining appropriate levels of environmental protection. The
amendments exclude projects proposed under the Building Canada Plan
– the infrastructure spending component of the federal
government's economic stimulus plan – from the
federal environmental assessment ("EA") process, and
allow the federal Minister of the Environment (the
"Minister") to accept the substitution of a provincial EA
process for a federal EA process under certain circumstances.
Certain Infrastructure Projects To Be Excluded
The amendments add certain categories of projects proposed under
the Building Canada Plan to the Exclusion List Regulations, 2007
(the "List"), exempting them from the federal EA process.
Examples of projects added to the List include modifications of
municipal buildings to improve energy efficiency or to repair or
prevent damage from natural disasters; modifications of municipal
solid waste and water treatment facilities; widening of public
roads and bridges; and the construction or removal of buildings for
certain purposes that are not within 250 metres of environmentally
sensitive areas ("ESAs"). ESAs are areas protected by
federal, provincial or local governments for environmental
purposes. Projects close to ESAs may only be excluded from the
federal EA process if they are consistent with laws and management
plans in place for that area, and for such areas protected by the
federal government, if the total cost of the project is under $10
million and there are measures in place to protect the area.
Substitution Of Provincial EA Process
New Infrastructure Projects Environmental Assessment
Adaptation Regulations allow the Minister to substitute a
provincial EA process in place of a separate federal process where
the Minister is satisfied that the provincial process includes
considerations of the factors set out in the CEAA (for example, the
significance of the project's adverse environmental effects);
that the EA documents will be public; and that there will be
opportunity for public participation. The Minister may also approve
the substitution of a process that has completed a screening, as
long as these conditions are met. If a provincial EA is
substituted, the federal responsible authority retains ultimate
decision-making responsibility following the EA and the Minister
may still refer projects to a review panel.
These changes are effective until March 31, 2011. During this
two-year period, the federal government plans to complete a
comprehensive review of the CEAA, which will presumably encompass
many efficiency considerations similar to those in this regulatory
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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