Nature Canada

Federal impact rules would exempt major oil and gas projects from environmental assessment while discouraging renewables


For immediate release: May 1st, 2019

Federal impact rules would exempt major oil and gas projects from environmental assessment while discouraging renewables

Environmental groups astonished that government will miss opportunity for action on climate change

Ottawa, Ont. – Under proposed regulations released today, major oil and gas projects would be exempt from federal assessment under Bill C-69, the new environmental impact review law.  Notably, the draft project list has no provision for assessments to be triggered based on their potential climate impacts.

“We are flabbergasted that the federal government has succumbed to lobbying by the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers to give proposed high-carbon projects such as in situ oil sands and fracking developments a free pass from federal review,” said Stephen Hazell, Director of Policy and General Counsel at Nature Canada. ”Impact assessment is an important tool to ensure that proposed projects incorporate best technologies to reduce carbon emissions, but the tool only works if you actually apply it across the board.”

“Exempting high-carbon projects from federal assessment is ludicrous,” says Julia Levin, Climate and Energy Program Manager at Environmental Defence Canada. “That’s like saying you’re going to study the environmental impact of road vehicles, and then giving a free pass to SUVs and transport trucks.”

The Designated Project List regulations identify categories of projects that are subject to the requirements of the proposed Impact Assessment Act, which forms a major part of Bill C-69 currently being debated by the Senate. The proposed regulations include large hydro and nuclear projects as well as various mines including oil sands mines.

Bill C-69 requires consideration of a project’s contribution to Canada’s climate commitments, which is an important step in the right direction. “This is the first time climate change has been included in a federal assessment law – but it simply won’t be effective if industry lobbyists have their way and the biggest emitters get a pass,” said Karine Péloffy, legal counsel for the Quebec Center for Environmental Law. “The impacts of climate change are becoming more severe and the oil and gas industry is putting Canada’s climate targets out of reach – this is unacceptable.”

“We are disappointed to see that there is currently no mechanism in the draft regulations to ensure that high carbon projects are federally assessed. Renewable energy projects will be discouraged and there will be fewer assessments of coal mines and pipelines. The federal government is in court defending its ability to regulate greenhouse gas emissions whilst seemingly giving up on its ability to assess them,” added Levin. “Ensuring equitable and efficient emissions reductions in all regions of the country requires the federal government be at the table when all new high-carbon projects are assessed.”

The draft regulations are now open for public comment until May 31, 2019. Comments and submissions can be provided at the following website:

About ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENCE ( Environmental Defence is a leading Canadian advocacy organization that works with government, industry and individuals to defend clean water, a safe climate and healthy communities.

About NATURE CANADA ( Nature Canada is the oldest national nature conservation charity in Canada. Nature Canada represents a network of over 90,000 members and supporters and more than 750 nature organizations.

About the QUEBEC CENTRE FOR ENVIRONMENTAL LAW ( The Quebec Center for Environmental Law is Quebec’s only independent organization offering legal expertise on environmental issues to citizens, participating in public consultations on law reform and representing an environmental citizen perspective in public interest litigation before all courts.


For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:

Barbara Hayes, Communications Manager, Environmental Defence; 613-255-5724;

Stephen Hazell, Director of Policy & General Counsel, Nature Canada; 613-724-1908 (cell); 613-562-3447 ext. 240 (office);

Karine Péloffy, Legal Counsel, Centre québécois du droit de l’environnement; 514-746-6597 (cell);; available in FR and ENG

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