Quick Start on Environmental Assessment Law Reform Proposed

Toronto (October 21, 2015) — The Trudeau government should quickly regulate interim improvements to environmental assessments of development projects such as Energy East and Trans Mountain even as it launches its promised public review of the federal process says Nature Canada.

“The review process for the Energy East and Trans Mountain pipeline/tanker projects needs to be fixed right now to ensure proper assessment of potentially catastrophic spills and climate change effects, as well as restore the right of interveners to cross-examine proponents at hearings” said Nature Canada’s Stephen Hazell. “The good news is that such a regulation could be announced even before the Paris climate conference and without having to introduce legislation into Parliament. Such a regulation would be a positive signal in Paris that Canada is serious about protecting nature from fossil fuel development as well as reducing greenhouse gas emissions”

Hazell was speaking today in Toronto at Environmental Assessment: A Critical Tool for Tackling Climate Change, the annual conference of the Ontario Association for Impact Assessment.

The new regulation would:

  • require the National Energy Board to assess the potentially catastrophic environmental effects of unlikely accidents and malfunctions such as “worst case scenario” spills from oil tankers and pipelines (as the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commissions currently does with respect to nuclear waste storage projects);
  • require proponents to provide data on greenhouse gas emissions from proposed high-carbon development projects (such as oil sands mines) to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency to consider in determining whether to conduct a federal environmental assessment; and
  • require the National Energy Board, Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency and Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission to reinstate the right of interveners to cross-examine proponent witnesses during hearings.

“Nature Canada is eager to participate in the new government’s public review of federal environmental assessment” said Hazell. “Nature Canada, industry and university colleagues are currently planning a forum in early December with a view to reviving the so-called Regulatory Advisory Committee, a multistakeholder body that advised on environmental assessment regulation from the early 1990’s until 2006 when it was sidelined by the former Harper government. This December forum could assist the government in planning the public review”

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About Nature Canada
Nature Canada is the oldest national nature conservation charity in Canada. Over the past 75 years, Nature Canada has helped protect over 63 million acres of parks and wildlife areas in Canada and countless species that depend on this habitat. Today, Nature Canada represents a network of more than 45,000 members and supporters and more than 350 nature organizations across the country, with affiliates in every province. Nature Canada focuses on effecting change on issues of national significance including bird conservation,  citizen science initiatives, urban nature initiatives, building a national network of conservation organizations, building a network of volunteers to care for critical natural habitat sites across Canada and being a voice for nature at the federal level.

Media contact
Stephen Hazell
Director of Conservation and General Counsel
Cell: 613-724-1908
Email: shazell@naturecanada.ca