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The Canadian federal government has announced that it is planning on introducing legislation to update the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, which outlines the process for governmental environmental audits and assessments for major industrial projects in Canada.
Currently, Canadian environmental assessments are performed by both the federal government and provincial governments, and the timeline for these assessments can take several years from start to finish. Some argue that these aspects make developing industrial projects difficult, as approval and budgeting could be left waiting for environmental assessments to finish.
For the majority of industrial manufacturers in Canada or thinking of expanding operations into Canada, these changes will not likely have a significant impact on their business. However, those in the energy sector (for example, Canada’s growing oil industry and coal extraction) can expect to see a change in the way things are done.
The proposed changes include shifting all environmental assessment responsibility to the provincial level of government and to restrict the deadline for environmental assessments to 2 years. In cases where the industrial project is extremely large and/or international in scope, the federal government would become involved in the process.
According to a recent article from the Canadian Broadcasting Company:"The federal government plans to introduce legislation and possibly regulation they say will streamline the regulatory process for major industrial projects, Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver told a mining industry audience in Toronto Monday. The goal of the legislation will be to eliminate overlap between the provincial and federal governments, Oliver said. 'Our goal is to deliver more predictable and timely reviews and reduce regulatory burden while improving environmental protection and supporting meaningful aboriginal consultation,' Oliver said in a speech to the annual convention of the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada. He added that he thought the federal government should only get involved with big projects.”
Read the full article.
It is not yet certain how the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act will be updated, and large industrial players will have to wait to see how this affects the way they operate. However, hopes among the energy sector are high that a faster and more efficient way of doing environmental assessment is on the way. The next challenge for the government will be making sure these environmental assessments continue to be as thorough and accurate as possible.
May 4, 2012