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New Federal Law Improves Resource Project Reviews, Helps Regain Public Trust

New Federal Law Improves Resource Project Reviews, Helps Regain Public Trust

Ottawa, ON (February 8, 2018) — Bill C-69, the proposed Canadian Impact Assessment Act, improves greatly on the Harper government’s 2012 law, but amendments are needed if the federal government is to regain public trust in reviews of pipeline and other projects and position Canada for a sustainable future. “Bill C-69 represents important reform by emphasizing sustainability, a single-agency approach to assessing resource projects, and eliminating rules restricting public participation in hearings” says Stephen Hazell, Director of Conservation and General Counsel. “But amendments will be needed if this law is to support Canada’s international commitments to reverse biodiversity loss and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.” “Nature Canada is disappointed that the Bill does not require assessment of the sustainability of proposed government policies, the most important of which is the federal budget.” To regain public trust, Nature Canada supports the designation of the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada as the federal agency solely responsible for conducting federal assessments. Industry-dominated regulators such as the new National Energy Regulator, Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, and offshore oil and gas boards have a technical role to play in project reviews, but should not control the conduct of these reviews as they do now. “An important positive element of Bill C-69 is that it requires Cabinet and the Environment Minister to make a public interest determination for any assessed project based on factors such as contribution to sustainability, impacts on Indigenous peoples and their rights, and whether the project affects the ability of Canada to meet its environmental obligations and its international climate commitments” adds Hazell. Nature Canada strongly believes that the law should not just apply to major projects, but also to projects that adversely affect the environment and requires some federal approval. For example, Nature Canada believes that high-carbon projects, projects proposed for National Parks and National Wildlife Areas, and projects requiring federal regulatory approvals under key environmental laws such as the Fisheries Act and Species at Risk Act must be assessed by law. Nature Canada supports elimination of restricting public participation in assessments. “All Canadians should have the right to participate in assessments of major development projects such as pipelines. More specifically, we support the elimination of tests to determine standing (e.g., the “directly affected” test) and the guarantee of participation rights in hearings,” says Hazell. Further, the cumulative effects of development in regions facing significant pressures also should be required to be assessed. Bill 69’s emphasis on regional planning is an exciting approach that needs to be fully discussed in Parliament.

For media commentary please contact:  Stephen Hazell, Director of Conservation and General Counsel 613 724-1908 (cell) 613 562-3447 ext. 240 For media assistance please contact: Janet Weichel McKenzie, Nature Canada Media Specialist 613-808-4642

A Greenish Budget

A Greenish Budget

[caption id="attachment_23643" align="alignleft" width="150"]Image of Stephen Hazell Stephen Hazell
Director of Conservation
and General Counsel[/caption] Federal finance minister Bill Morneau announced the Liberal government’s first budget on March 22. Overall, Budget 2016 is pretty good for nature. Positive announcements include: National Parks

  • $142.5 million over 5 years for new parks establishment ($42 million);
  • $83.3 million to pay for free admissions to National Parks; and
  • $16.6 million for the Learn to Camp Program.
Marine and Coastal Areas
  • $81.3 million over 5 years to establish new marine protected areas and for marine conservation activities.
Environmental Assessment
  • $16.5 million over 3 years  for participant funding in environmental assessments of projects such as Energy East; and
  • $14.5 million over 3 years  to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency for increasing its capacity with respect to consultations and compliance and enforcement.
Image of grasslandsBudget 2016 includes $2 billion for a low-carbon future fund and $518 million in climate change mitigation and adaptation infrastructure projects.  Nature Canada and other nature groups will be arguing that protection of  ecosystems such as native grasslands should be eligible for funding under these funds as inexpensive means to sequester and store carbon and build in resilience to global climate change. Nature Canada is disappointed  that  there is no new funding for Canadian Wildlife Service (CWS) for
  • Species at risk,  migratory birds or grasslands conservation; or
  • Connecting Canadians to nature (Parks Canada did received funding for the Learn to Camp program)
Nature Canada and the other nature groups in the Green Budget Coalition need to work harder this year to ensure that these neglected CWS program areas are not neglected in Budget 2017. So in conclusion, overall a rating of “Greenish” for Budget 2016.
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Leading environmental organizations concerned about federal government’s decision to give Northern Gateway the go-ahead

Leading environmental organizations concerned about federal government’s decision to give Northern Gateway the go-ahead

OTTAWA (June 17, 2014) Nature Canada and BC Nature have expressed their profound disappointment at the federal government’s decision to conditionally approve the Northern Gateway pipeline and tanker proposal. “It is most disconcerting that the federal government has chosen to gloss over the risk of oil spills and the environmental harm that such spills would cause,” said Stephen Hazell, interim executive director of Nature Canada. “The expert evidence before the Panel was that there is one in four chance that a pipeline has a major spill in its lifespan – those are worse odds than playing Russian roulette.” The University of Victoria Environmental Law Centre represented BC Nature and Nature Canada, at the hearings. Four separate Enbridge expert witness panels were questioned for a total of over twenty-five hours, at four locations, over a five month period. These cross-examinations addressed a variety of deficiencies with Enbridge’s application including caribou habitat analysis, species recovery following oil spills, chronic oiling and spills probability analysis. BC Nature and Nature Canada also brought several important procedural motions and secured the late admission into evidence of key material on threats to endangered caribou populations. Nature Canada and BC Nature were one of only two environmental coalitions that participated throughout the hearings. Nature Canada also expressed solidarity with First Nations and remote northern communities who have not been adequately consulted despite having the most to lose personally, economically and ecologically. - 30 - [one_half][separator headline="h2" title="Media Contacts:"] Paul Jorgenson, Senior Communications Manager 819-208-8230 (cellular) | Monica Tanaka, Communications Coordinator 613-562-3447 ext 241 |[/one_half] [one_half_last][separator headline="h3" title="About Nature Canada"] Nature Canada is the oldest national nature conservation charity in Canada. Over the past 75 years, we’ve helped protect over 63 million acres of parks and wildlife areas in Canada and the countless species that depend on this habitat. Today, we represent a network of over 45,000 members & supporters and more than 350 nature organizations in every province across Canada.[/one_half_last]  

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