2010 budget streamlines federal environmental assessments

19 juillet 2010

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On July 13, 2010 the Canadian Senate passed Bill C-9, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 4, 2010 and other measures. Included in the omnibus 2010 Budget Bill were changes to the federal environmental assessment review process under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act.

The major changes to environmental assessments included in Bill C-9 are:

This last change has been the subject of significant debate – critics have charged that the giving the Minister the power to determine the scope of projects will gut the assessment process, while advocates have suggested that the power will be used to restrict assessments to areas of federal jurisdiction and eliminate overlap with existing provincial assessments.

Addressing critics’ concerns about the changes, Environment Minister Jim Prentice has stated:

I am a strong believer in the environmental assessment process. Improving a project’s design to prevent environmental harm before construction is both prudent and cost-effective

It is clear to me that the federal environmental assessment process has not worked as well as it needs to and requires fixing. It is prone to delay. These delays have caused difficulties in harmonization with the provinces that have not benefited the environment and have harmed the economy… These amendments are about getting the federal house in order…

A more efficient and timely process is good for the economy. Strengthening the role of the Minister of the Environment and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency will be good for the environment.”

The Canadian Environmental Assessment Act is scheduled to undergo a statutory Five-Year Parliamentary Review in the fall.

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