By Gloria Galloway.
The federal government is proposing to overhaul the way environmental assessments are conducted in Canada, with the aim to reduce red tape, provide greater transparency and allow greater input from the public and Indigenous populations. At the same time, Ottawa says it will replace the National Energy Board with a Calgary-based oversight body designed to respond to emerging energy developments that will make faster decisions guided by science and Indigenous knowledge. Liberal cabinet ministers held news conferences in cities across the country on Thursday to roll out the long-promised environmental legislation.
Bureaucrats told reporters at a news conference in Ottawa that an Impact Assessment Act will repeal what is now the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act and the National Energy Board will be replaced by a new Canadian Energy Regulator.
The changes are aimed at broadening the reviews from standard environmental assessment to those that are focused on sustainability and take into consideration a broad range of potential outcomes including a project’s impact on health, society, Indigenous peoples, jobs and the economy over the long term.
The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency would be renamed the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada and would work with the provinces and territories to ensure “one project, one assessment,” a government official told reporters. The reviews, which would include a gender-based analysis, would ensure that projects are consistent with Canada’s international commitments on climate change.
And there will be more money for public participation, including that of Indigenous groups. At the same time, the government is promising that the reviews will be more predictable and efficient and will give companies enhanced clarity.