Canada’s Environmental Assessment Act 2012

Photo source: Ned Tobin |

I’ve recently been fed an article from the Vancouver Sun discussing Canada’s decision to alter some of the rules for its Environmental Assessment Act, becoming official on July 6, 2012. I won’t regurgitate what has already been spilled there, but I will offer some insight into what our government’s policies are.

Reading something like this Vancouver Sun article makes it nearly impossible to let it slide without saying something. We Canadians are passive about a lot of things, but our environment we should not be passive about. We, the entire population of the world, should take absolute measures to promote planet earth’s safe growth, health, and happiness.

Naturally, one who reads such an article then inquires more into the matter.

Found on the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agencies website, I’ll quote:

The purpose of CEAA 2012 is to:

  • Protect components of the environment that are within federal legislative authority from significant adverse environmental effects caused by a designated project;
  • Ensure that designated projects are considered and carried out in a careful and precautionary manner in order to avoid significant adverse environmental effects when a federal authority is exercising a power or performing a duty or function required for the project to proceed;
  • Promote cooperation and coordination between federal and provincial governments;
  • Promote communication and cooperation with Aboriginal peoples;
  • Ensure that opportunities are provided for meaningful public participation;
  • Ensure that environmental assessments are completed in a timely manner;
  • Ensure that proposed projects on federal lands or that are outside Canada and carried out or financially supported by a federal authority, are considered in a careful and precautionary manner in order to avoid significant adverse environmental effects;
  • Encourage federal authorities to take actions in a manner that promotes sustainable development in order to achieve or maintain a healthy environment and a healthy economy; and
  • Encourage further studies of the cumulative effects of physical activities in a region and the consideration of the study results in environmental assessments.

This is good news. Kind of.

I’ve read enough about setting and defining goals to ensure they are effective goals, not just wishy washy goals laid down to trick, well..  nobody. Words like encourage, ensure, promote are big no-no’s, especially when not followed up with select details… but the outlines are still very encouraging. So, I read on.

What is examined during a federal environmental assessment?

The following factors must be considered:

  • environmental effects, including environmental effects caused by accidents and malfunctions, and cumulative environmental effects
  • significance of those environmental effects
  • public comments
  • mitigation measures and follow-up program requirements
  • purpose of the designated project
  • alternative means of carrying out the designated project
  • changes to the project caused by the environment
  • results of any relevant regional study
  • any other relevant matter

The timelines proposed are when details start to be outlined.

  • 45 day period to which the Agency has to approve whether a review is necessary [which includes 20 days for public responses]
  • 365 days for the review to be completed by the Agency, 24 months if it’s done by the Panel

I really like how the review panel “is a group of independent experts appointed by the Minister of the Environment, in cooperation with another jurisdiction in the case of joint review panels, to conduct an environmental assessment. The members are selected on the basis of their knowledge, experience and expertise, and must be free from bias or conflict of interest relative to the designated project.” This is extremely encouraging.

I really dislike “[t]he period that is taken by the proponent to respond to a request from the Agency or a review panel (conduct studies, prepare environmental impact statement, collect further information, etc.), is not counted in the timelines.”  The proponent is the party who proposes the project the assessment is being undertaken on.

I could swear this means that when the Agency requires more information about the project, the Proponent can take as long as they want to return the information.. Does this mean that they can also continue with their project in the meantime?

Incidentally, I found a nice image of the proposed Northern Gateway Pipeline Project that’s no doubt going to be effected by these changes discussed in the Vancouver Sun’s article.

Photo source: Canada’s Environmental Assessment Agency |

What a thing of beauty that nice scar on Canadian soil is. I wonder if Canada has a good health care insurance plan? I guess perhaps the government also believes that such a change to the landscape will also not effect the country?

I suggest that we keep an eye on the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency Review Panel’s assessments that are current, or terminated. It might do use some good to learn our governments history with regards to the environment. After all, education is good right? Oh, no, the Canadian government is also cutting that funding

Where is our money going?

I suggest, in conclusion, the very least we do is sign some petitions. They always make a difference, right? It’s not ironic at all that the Green Party actually has a petition against these changes..

Here are a few I’ve found:


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